It takes an enormous fund of exact information, carefully organized by clear reason and handled with great skill,
for a man to perform a successful brain operation or heart surgery
or for a man to conceive, design, and launch a rocket-satellite
or to drill thousands of feet into the earth for oil
or to build a palatial ship to ride the deeps of ocean…
— none of this helps a man to live in compassionate and tender tension of love with his wife, his children, and his neighbors. [1]

Author Robert Raynolds wrote this in 1959.

Then, it was more typical to believe that rational, scientific thinking was solving, or would eventually solve, all human problems. It was a very “Hellenistic” belief, in its way.

But even then, we’d noticed that the greatest scientific or technological accomplishments weren’t always accompanied by the greatest human values. The Nazis exemplified this: They controlled the most technologically advanced country of their time, but behaved with a lack of empathy that in human terms, can only be called depraved and barbaric.

Jewish teaching — and later, Christian and Muslim teaching — excoriates the work of “barbarians” on just that point: It lacks compassion; empathy; “respect for human [and other] life;” etc.

It is religion, supposedly, that offers the higher alternative: True human fulfillment as shown by the loving heart.

Has this been so, historically? One can certainly find individual examples where it has been. But otherwise, the answer must be: No.

This, of course, is known to most people — even “religious” ones.

Should we then blame “religion” — whichever religion we choose to blame, if not all of them?

Again, the answer must be: No.

We ourselves bear the responsibility for examining the extent of our love; the extent of our lovingness.

Religion can — and does — urge us to love. It can say the “right” things about loving. It can give wise sayings and good examples. It can even describe an ideal society, permeated by love and caring.

But it cannot — can never — put “loving” in the heart, without the permission of the individual person, whether man or woman.

For us to put loving in our hearts, or to allow it to be placed or discovered or revealed there, we must examine ourselves, make changes in thought and action, and grow incrementally in the process.

We can be helped in this by being in the presence of those more advanced in the process than we ourselves are. Their love and peace seems to increase our own, and inspire us to go even further.

But it is still we, ourselves, who must choose to make the necessary changes. The easy ones and the hard ones.

We needn’t be so concerned with clever or even profound interpretations of Scripture. It can leave us with a head full of ideas that the heart never hears.

Rather, let’s take every word, every letter, as a reminder of the Presence of G-d Who judges nothing about us as much as the breadth and depth of our love.

“Just as G-d, in making man akin to Himself, has planted the Divine quality of creativeness within him, so has He planted within him the quality of love. Human love is a reproduction of Divine love, just as human creativeness is a reproduction of Divine creativeness.” [2


[1] Raynolds, Robert; The Choice to Love; Harper and Brothers, NY; © 1959; p. 26

[2] Lichtenstein, Rabbi Morris; Jewish Science and Health; Jewish Science Publishing Co., © 1925; p. 37