Yonah 4 - #2 of 2
In Yonah 4:10, Hashem tells Yonah ‘You took pity over the kikayon which you did not toil in or raise…’ Hashem seems to be conveying the well-known phenomenon that the more one invests toil into any given project, the more one becomes attached to it. Why is this so?
In the opening paragraph of Chelek 3 of Michtav M’Eliyahu, Rav Dessler explains this concept, in the context of toiling in Torah study. Essentially, he explains that we see that which we put our efforts into as an extension and expression of ourselves. And since we have a natural disposition to love ourselves, we love this project too. In other words, when you have put effort into something or someone you have given of your self (time, resources, etc.) and therefore you see them as an extension of your ‘sphere of self,’ to an extent. It is the extra toil and effort that creates the attachment.
The more we exert ourselves for Torah and mitzvos, or toil for other people, the greater our attachment will be to them, and the more we will love them.