By Rav Eyal Israel Sternlieb
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
There are two paths of life to follow in the world, and you will always find yourself on one of these two paths.
On the path of “you shall succeed” or the path of “you shall love.”
On the path of “you shall succeed”, I’m the subject and greed is the way.
So, what’s the problem that I’m the subject? It is explicitly written “you shall love your fellow as yourself”, from here we learn that a person needs to love himself, no?!
The problem is that you are the subject for the goal of taking.
And the source of this greed is in my personal weakness which I don’t take responsibility for.
I feel that I will be loved only if I’ll be successful and good and smart and I’ll do everything which is expected of me; and behold love is oxygen for the soul, so I have to have it, but really I don’t have it because it’s always conditional. What is the result of this? Chasing after successes and achievements whose only goal is to fill my personal weakness.
So what’s the problem? What’s not okay with satisfying my personal weakness?
In order to honestly check if there’s a problem, I need to look inside; do I usually feel relaxed, full of satisfaction, beloved and valued? Or maybe I’m accompanied by feelings of fear of failure, disappointment, frustration and lacking self-worth?
Difficult feelings express the fact that something is not right inside, and it testifies to the fact that I’m on the path of “you shall succeed”, where my love is conditional upon (each person fill in the missing words)… where my love is being tested every given moment, and even if I’ve ‘succeeded’ for a moment to be okay like they expected from me, then the next moment already contains a new test, another possibility for failure, which causes me to be stressed, afraid and tense.
And even if I’ve strengthened myself that I’m okay, even that I’m essentially good, the internal judge is still working hard and telling me: “Don’t relax so soon! Everything here is still hanging in the air, your love is not guaranteed whatsoever…”
On the other hand, I have inside of me a child who’s screaming: “I don’t want to be in court, love me as I am, and afterwards we’ll speak about what I need to improve. I want to be good, but this path weakens me…”
On the path of “you shall love” the other person is the subject, and giving is the way. On this path my fellow could definitely be also my sweet soul.
To this soul I give love with no condition and with no intermediary. I admit completely that I need love and that I have a lot of love to give, without being ashamed and hiding behind masks, and then I begin to learn what the other person (including my sweet soul) really needs and I choose to give.
On this path I go on a journey of revealing Hashem’s boundless love for me and for all his creations. There is a place for difficult feelings, with a tone of mercy and acceptance, and not that of a courtroom.
Wait, but how’s it possible to make progress without a court? Behold making an accounting is something basic, which a person is supposed to do every day?
The difference between a lofty court and a lower court, between repentance and guilt will be discussed next week…
 Leviticus, 19:18