"Do You Love Me?" ­ Article ­ BINA

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"Do You Love Me?"

by Rabbi Aron Moss

I have come to shul a few times now and quite enjoy it, but I have an issue with some of the prayers. I feel like a liar saying things when I don't know if I believe in them. How can I exclaim, "love G-d with all your heart" when I am not sure He even exists?
You have been married a few years now, and I am sure that you love your wife dearly. But have you ever woken up one morning with a sense that you've lost that loving feeling?
Perhaps after a moment of tension between you, or maybe you have been feeling down for other reasons, or for no apparent reason at all, you just feel that your heart is cold and the love you once felt has disappeared.
What if, just at that moment, your wife asked you, "Do you love me?"
What should you answer?
Should you be honest and say, "Well, I'm not sure. I don't feel it right now..."?
Not if you want to stay married.
You should tell her confidently and sincerely, "Of course I love you!" And that is not a lie. Because you do love her, it is just that the love is not manifest in your heart at that moment. It is there, it hasn't gone anywhere, but your heart is blocked, not allowing you to experience the loving feeling. Just because you don't feel the love doesn't mean that you are no longer in love. You are just going through a low patch as we all do from time to time, but the love is still there as it always was.
So it is perfectly honest to say "I love you", even at a moment when you don't feel it. And an amazing thing happens when you do. Your heart starts to melt. By mouthing the words "I love you", not because you felt like saying it, but because your wife needed to hear it, you have reached outside of yourself, bursting the bubble of self-absorption that is probably the cause of the blockage in the first place. Now you are open to feel again. It won't be long before the love starts flowing back, more powerful and passionate than ever.
The same applies to our relationship with G-d. Our soul is connected to G-d, because it is a part of Him. But we often don't feel that connection in our hearts, because we are spiritually blocked, our hearts are frozen to spirituality. The love is there, just like the soul is there, it is just not felt, not apparent.
We don't have to wait for those feelings to come in order to pray. It is the other way around, by saying the words of the prayers, even without feeling them, the layers of cynicism and doubt start to melt away and our connection to G-d comes to the surface.
So you can pray when you are not sure you believe it, just like you can tell your wife you love her even when you don't feel it. Because not so deep down, you really do.

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