Love is a word that in our culture has almost lost its meaning.
There’s a very interesting story about the Kotzker Rebbe, who came across a young man who was fairly enjoying a dish of fish that he was eating.
He said, “Young man, why are you eating that fish?”
The man said, “Because I love fish!”
So, he said, “Oh, you love the fish. That’s why you took it out of the water, killed it, and boiled it.” He said, “Don’t tell me you love fish. You love yourself. And because the fish tastes good to you, you therefore took it out of the water, killed it, and boiled it!”
So much of what we think is love is really fish love.
And so, a young couple falls in love, a young man and young woman fall in love. What does that mean? It means that he saw in this woman someone who he felt could provide him with all his physical and emotional needs, and she saw in this man somebody who she feels could provide her with all her needs.
That was love, but they’re both looking out for their own needs. It’s not love for the other. The other person becomes a vehicle for my gratification.
Too much of what is called love is fish love. An external love is not focused on what I’m going to get, but on what I’m going to give. Rav Dessler said that people make a serious mistake in thinking that you give to those whom you love. And the real answer is: You love those to whom you give.
And his point is, if I give something to you, I’ve invested myself in you. And since self-love is a given (everybody loves themselves), now that part of me has become you, there is part of me in you that I love.
So true love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving.