By Rav Avraham Greenman
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
“The Torah is acquired by means of forty eight qualities, which are… being beloved, loving Hashem, loving (His) creatures…” This means that in order to receive the Torah upon myself, it’s not enough to love, I also need to be loved.
The question is, how can this be required of me? Is it my choice to be loved? And what should I do if others don’t love me? Why is this one of the ways that the Torah is acquired?
In order to answer these questions, we need to remind ourselves again: what is love?
Love is an attribute which comes from the trait of kindness. Just as this attribute is the infrastructure for the existence of the world- “a world of kindness you shall build”, and just as only through this outlook of kindness, where the entire reality of evil is only exterior and an incorrect reflection of reality, the world has existence; so to in my private ‘world’ my existence is possible only through the attribute of kindness, which sees my current reality with a good eye, and believes that there is no negative reality in all of creation.
Only in this way, by way of me accepting my current reality as it is, I can take the next step in teshuva and correcting my actions. These are the stages, first compassion and afterwards judgement, first comes kindness and then strength.
To say ‘I’m not okay, I didn’t want’ etc., is to destroy my inner world, it’s putting strength before kindness, and that’s destruction, because from here going forward there is nobody who will rectify and repent. However, to say to myself ‘I’m okay, and it hurts me that I failed’, this is called correcting myself and repenting, my pain about my mistake is the beginning of the healing.
When I find myself not connected, not serious, not behaving properly, if my reaction is: ‘why am I not’, then the immediate result is rejection, distance and lack of will to progress. The correct reaction is: “Hashem, thank you for showing me what I need to correct, I feel that you love me, tremendous love with no boundary, and you believe in my will to make progress. Please help me correct this, my will is to do your will, it’s just hard for me…” words like these are from the attribute of kindness, and it’s the basis of all service of Hashem.
Love, way before it comes to me from the outside reality, it shines from me to the outside world. And if I’m in a state of love, first of all towards myself, in a state of accepting myself with correct compassion and kindness, which brings me afterwards to judgment and strength, then I’m fulfilling this acquisition of “being loved”, because to be loved is first of all to be loved by yourself.
The moment that I’ll be loved by myself, others will already reflect this to me in return.
 Ethics of the Fathers, 6:6
 Psalms, 89:3