Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin Zt”l notes that unfortunately when the criteria for marriage and the standard for a union is founded upon a “and you will desire her“, an obsessive physical attraction, often the result is “and it shall be if you do not delight in her and you shall send her away”. The Mishna in Avos (5:19) emphasizes the tragedy of a “love which is dependent on a specific charachteristic” as opposed to a love which is pure and not founded on a specific matter or reason. The love of Amnon, the son of Dovid, for his half-sister Tamar was obsessive and lustful, and was ultimately replaced by a hatred intense enough to overcome the filial sympathy of a brother for a sister.
Reb Yitzchak Bunim Z”l deepens our understanding of this Mishna with his insight in regard to our People. Judaism has known many who abandoned our faith to turn apostate, and like Amnon, had developed an implacable hatred towards our People. Drawing upon the Mishna’s teaching it may be noted that their original attachment to Judaism was only dependent on superficial factors. There was no internal insight into Torah and its mitzvos. They may have given their devotion for great honor, fame or some other benefit. When they did not attain these goals, their devotion quickly evaporated, causing love to be replaced by hatred. A relationship based upon ulterior motives cannot endure and flourish. One’s love for Hashem, His Torah and mitzvos should be an affection based on no external motives. This abiding loyal love must permeate our approach towards performing mitzvos, and we should perform them out of a sense of love and devotion to the Creator who commanded them to us.