Rabbi Steinsaltz: “Even people who are not forgiving—by religion or by temperament—are ready to forgive themselves, and forget almost everything.”

 

Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

It seems that there does not have to be any real connection between the emotion of love and the object of love.

Consider the most common kind of love: self-love.

Of course, this love is usually quite different from falling in love with another person.

Except for pathological cases (extreme narcissism), it does not include any fiery emotion.

Still, it has all the elements of love: the attachment, the involvement, the desire to grant the beloved (oneself, that is) every whim, and so on.

Because we are born with it, there is no strong emotional display, very much like love within the family; yet it is a very stable and enduring love.

Self-love provides powerful evidence of two important, broadly applicable aspects of love.

First, love is blind—or, better yet, hallucinatory.

Most people love themselves even though they know more derogatory things about themselves than anybody else could ever find out.

In most cases, self-love is a full-fledged, everlasting love affair, and, although it sometimes grows and sometimes diminishes, it exists independently of any special attributes.

The second aspect of love epitomized by self-love is forgiveness.

Even people who are not forgiving—by religion or by temperament—are ready to forgive themselves, and forget almost everything.

Forgiveness does not mean that people ignore all their own flaws, but they are able to go on loving themselves, even with all the faults and all the guilt.

How does this happen?

At a certain point, when people begin to develop a sense of self, they fall in love with this self, and they cease to demand anything of it; its mere existence is enough for them.

Love rarely distorts facts; it covers up faults by changing our estimation of them.

Facts somehow do not sound the same, or matter quite as much, when they are about me.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in Simple Words

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