On saying I love you & Reb Levi Yitzchok Schneeron

Thursday, 22 November, 2018 - 12:24 pm


On saying “I Love you” & Reb Levi Yitzchok Schneerson

by Mordechai Zev Hecht

I vividly recall how, as a child, 'Pizza' was a treat. It was exciting to go out and eat pizza and fries and if you got a falafel you (I) were (was) rich. Even to order-in pizza, especially on Thursday nights, or from time to time Sunday nights, instead of eating the leftovers from Shabbos we got pizza, it was exciting. (Exciting; like when my father bought us prizes each day, when my mother went away for a week to Australia to attend a simcha).

I also recall hearing time and again “pizza isn’t healthy”, regardless whether or not it was healthy it was an easy dinner for my mother - of 14. Quite frankly, it tasted good and it felt good when you ate it - and you enjoyed it, and you were fed & nourished

Many things have a way of changing over time, but I don’t know if pizza has. I still believe every kid still sees pizza as a treat, whatever day of the week - with falafel or without.

I recall, in my early twenties, the first time I was exposed to sushi. I didn’t like it.

Eventually Sushi “went viral” and on to become a major hit. There isn’t a pizza shop today or a supermarket that doesn’t roll sushi, and then some.


People always ask me, what it was like growing up with soo many brothers and sisters, truth be told their is much to say. But I think there is one thing that speaks volumes which actually stands out louder in my mind more than anything else. We helped take care of each other, most of us anyway. Growing up together as a family with three boys in one bedroom and at times as many as five, besides for my sisters in the other rooms, bonding happens. This bonding included going to school and camp together, playing games at home and in the park, helping each other out with homework, riding bikes together, running around together, reading to each other and all the normal stuff good brothers do together. As I reflect, I realized how much we loved each other, how much we had each others backs and how we truly cared for one another, (most of us anyway). These friendships carried on into our adult lives and have served us well, through thick and thin.


Being parents of soo many children is no easy task - to say the least. But then again I know many parents of only 1 child who suffer endlessly in their upbringing. So when people ask about the term “I love you”, I wonder! How important are those three words. I mean if your parents provide for you shelter, food and clothing and they send off you off to private school, Yeshivah, and summer camp and everything else in between, what is it if not love, right?!

Well not exactly. You see I recall some other things from my childhood like the crime rate in NYC, panhandlers, homelessness, “broken glass” and “graffiti”, the old subway system and much hitting in the education system. Like sushi today, today’s new form of discipline didn’t exist back then in our society. (Or did it?!)

On Saying I Love You

To say that pre 2000-the computer age, parents didn’t know how to say “I love you” and now they do, is incorrect. There is no such data proving this. Rather what we had was certain societal norms, certain things that were ok and accepted and not considered taboo both socially and religiously speaking.

Today we are more educated. We are more in touch with our feelings. Today we have organizations and books and websites and grass roots “loud speakers” that train, teach and educate people on how to be the best people they can be - seasoned educators and long time parents included. 

On the psychology of the words ”I Love you”

So, how important are these three words, “I - love - you”. Do people grow up happier and healthier if they hear it as they grow from infancy to teenage life and beyond?

The answer is: ask yourself one simple question: “how important is the person you are saying it to in your life”?! If I walk up to someone I never met and I say: “Hey you, I Love you”- what does it mean? mostly, nothing, zilch!

If you’re dating someone, you really don’t like and you go up to them and you say: “Hey! “I Love you”, what does it mean? The answer is also, a resounding nothing. You can say it, no one stopping you. You can "fake it till you make it", if you chose. But at that moment when you said it - it meant nothing.

Particularly when, you are something to someone saying “I Love you” - is critical. Not saying it creates doubts and often insecurity -it's how we are hardwired.   

There are only two types of people, 1) timid and 2) egotistical. If as an educator or a parent you had a hard time saying those words, “I love you”, it’s simply because you were either timid, shy, bashful, you were not used to hearing it in your life, or you saw those words to mean something else, or you saw them as hypocritical and non-action words and so you shied away from using them.

Or, you were egotistical. If you loved a student and was so proud of them yet you couldn’t express that feeling this is because you either saw the student as a threat, or you had a personal challenge in your own life with this kind of experience and so you can’t let go. You can’t move beyond it and get ahead of it, to let the student hear how wonderful he or she really is or was. Or perhaps, because this child, student, or blood-child, doesn’t offer you anything, no fame or fortune and so you can’t say I love you because you are too intellectual too egotistical and can’t allow that progeny to feel great, safe and loved with him or herself all because you get nothing out of it. You can say it to your co worker, your cousin your nephew or niece, (and you love to hear it yourself) who give you all the affirmation you need, but for some strange reason you can’t give that same affirmation to someone else.

Training and educating and coaching our children to get to the core of our personalities can help us navigate healthily in life on a path that is productive and kind. We need to cultivate a loving and safe, nurturing feeling amongst our loved ones.

Rachel & Leah of the Bible

“…and Jacob loved Rachel…”and G-d knew Leah was hated so he opened her womb…” (Exodus 28) and she eventually fathered 6 of the 12 tribes, and then some. This is one of the most stirring sagas in the entire Torah. Hate, love and expressing ourselves is as old as humanity. Regardless of what society does or hosts or bolsters, Jews look to the Torah for advice for more than 3,300 years and if we would look carefully we would see both philosophically and Halachically that time and again love and expressing it, is a central and key component to any healthy and successful relationship. After all is it not G-d alone who commands us to love G-d and to actually recite thrice daily: “And you shall love Hashem, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6) Awkward enough, “love” like pizza, never gets old, or not seen as a most desirable treat in the eyes of man.

The Rebbe and His Father

The love between a father and a son is unbreakable, (most of the time). The love between a Chassid and a Rebbe is ultimately unexplainable. The love between saints and sacred sages is on the highest level possible. Put those all together and this is what you get, the love of Reb Levi Yitzchok Schneerson ZT”L, the Rebbe's father, and the Rebbe. An excerpt of the letter he wrote to his son at his wedding time, as he was unable to attend, he was in Ukraine and the Rebbe in Warsaw, Poland. I believe we can use these words as a paradigm poetry, lore and law for love to one another. Reading it, you can almost feel the chills and the warmth oozing out of the words.

" To my dear son, my beloved, my colleague, my precious, my desirable, accept my blessings from the depth of my heart and the core of my soul on the occasion of your wedding, of which you should have mazal-tov with G-d's help...I share with you all my blessings which comes from the essence of my heart...although we are not with you physically, we are with you in heart and soul which no space in the world can interfere with, we are soo with you...may you be blessed physically and spiritually, absolute good, only good, good both in the yes of G-d and man, both good for the soul and the body... your marriage, your edifice, should bring you both much good in every way - and together you should have much delight from each other... so much good "that your lips should rub out from saying 'enough' good"...your father who's soul is connected to your soul, I await the redemption and salvation so that we can see each other again soon...Signed by the Rebbe's Father

Don't be afraid to say I love you. Don't be timid and say "I love you"!

Don't be so egotistical, and break yourself if need be and just say it, "I love you".

Develop some faith in yourself, be thankful, be joyful, be warm, be kind and have faith in Man and G-d and say, "I" "love" "you". For after all doesn't it also say in the Torah, "Love your fellow as yourself".

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