I was in the car on the way to my Shabbas plans a few weeks ago, stuck in traffic. I had no CDs, no shiurim, and nothing to do to keep from falling asleep. It was then that I made the foolish mistake of turning on the radio and the first song I was slammed with reminded me once again why I no longer listen to the radio. It went like this:
Sometimes I hate every single stupid word you say
Sometimes I wanna slap you in your whole face
There’s no one quite like you
You push all my buttons down
I know life would suck without you
At the same time, I wanna hug you
I wanna wrap my hands around your neck
You’re an **** but I love you
And you make me so mad I ask myself
Why I’m still here, or where could I go
You’re the only love I’ve ever known
But I hate you, I really hate you,
So much, I think it must be
True love, true love
It must be true love
Nothing else can break my heart like
True love, true love,
It must be true love
No one else can break my heart like you
This is a song by Pink released in early 2013. Of course, being that I was in Israel this was my first time hearing it. I quickly turned off the radio, stunned. This is what our media is teaching us? “I hate you so much, it must be true love!” Clearly, I’d been in Israel too long, because I’d almost all but forgotten what I used to believe. And sadly, it went something like that. I used to think that if you love someone, you stick through it, even when they treat you like dirt, even when they break your heart, and even when you begin to hate them. Don’t deny it girls’, you know you do this too. You know you hang on, even when it’s clear you should let go. You know you stick around through more fights than you should, more stand-ups than are worth, more jerky moves on his part that you just can’t stand. But you also know you’re worth more than that. Much more. So why do we do this?
Well, maybe, just maybe, we were duped. We were brought up in a society fueled on media influences. And in this media parade we were pitched a façade of love that wore a sign saying “hate is romantic.” Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie, The Notebook, but a relationship built on screaming at each other and fighting is not a relationship worth investing in. Clearly something’s wrong. Clearly, these two people don’t share some of the vital components that make a relationship worth fighting for.
In Judaism, love does not result from hate or from realizing that ones’ life would be more boring without the other person. It results from a true, deep understanding of who the other person is, a shared value system, and an emphasis on giving to the other (and this doesn’t include giving slaps or pushing buttons). One of my rabbis always says, define your terms, so let’s do just that. Let’s define hate and love according to Webster.
Hate: intense or passionate dislike (for another). Love: strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.
So even according to the most basic, well-known understanding of these two concepts, they still have no place in the same relationship. If one has a passionate dislike for another they cannot very well have a strong affection that has been produced out of their relationship at the same time. They just do not go. But let’s take this deeper. Let’s look at Torah’s view of hate and love.
According to the Torah, hate is an emotion that should be saved to rid the world of evil. It is something specifically used in a situation where one makes the world devoid of Hashem and his infinite goodness. It is preserved for those people, events, or things that take G-d out of this world. And when one hates purposelessly, they usually are just thinking of themselves. They are being selfish.
Love, on the other hand, is defined as something that is created out of action. It is created when a person gives to another so much that they come to love them. It is, in fact, the opposite of hate, for where there is love, G-d emanates. Love, by nature is filling the world with G-d, because it is the act of treating another in the way that G-d treats humanity. It mimics G-d: his chessed, his mercy, and his non-judgmental nature. You cannot both make the world devoid of G-d while at the same time filling the world with G-d. This would be impossible. G-d in his infinite goodness bestows love on all of us all the time and from this we learn how to bestow love onto another; through chessed, mercifulness, and a non-judgmental nature. Through seeing another as one with ourselves, through giving, through acceptance, we begin to love another. So actually, love is a choice. And it is built. It cannot be created out of thin air and it can’t be created out of hate. It can only be built on selflessness.
So let’s go back to our song. “I really hate you so much, it must be true love.” So according to our new understanding, true love does not result from hate. If someone “pushes your buttons,” treats you poorly, or “breaks your heart,” they don’t love you, they loathe you. They, do, however love themselves. Don’t be fooled by this phenomenon. A male calling you to come over, who breaks your heart the next day, doesn’t love you, he loves him. He loves himself.
It’s safe to say, hang on for the real thing. True love won’t necessarily wear a sign over it saying romance, but it should break your heart less, make you sad less, help you hurt less and let you grow more. It might not wear a sign, but I’m betting you won’t need it.