DAY 517: The Meaning of Love

November 29, 2013
By bethmordecai
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DAY 517: The Meaning of Love

DAY 517: The Meaning of Love
V’ahavta et Adonai Elohekha                     וְאָהַבְתָּ אֶת ה’ אֶלֹקֶיך
             You shall love the Lord Your God (Deut 6:5)
V’ahavta L’reiakha Kamokha                         וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעָךָ כָּמוֹך
        You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:15)

Dear Hevreh,

Love is one of the most powerful words we have at our disposal — just ask any couple how the first time they said “I love you” to one another changed their relationship forever. Whether it’s through our own experience or through our culture, we are quite aware of the emotional power of love. Yet, in addition to the emotional passion of the term, “love” connotes a covenental passion in which the people who say “I love you” to one another announce their commitment to one another (which, by the way, may be why your former partner was hesitant to say the “L word” at all). In the ancient near east, the setting for the events in our Torah, “Love” or Ahavah (a-h-v) was an expression of a willingness to adhere to a covenant. So when the Torah uses love in Deuteronomy or Leviticus (as shown above) the purpose is not simply to display an emotional connection between people and God or among neighbors, but also to announce that we who use that term commit ourselves always be there for one another.
This week, Rachel and I had the privilege of bringing our first born son into a committed relationship with God and the Jewish people through the ritual of his bris. It was a moment in which I came face to face with the dual meaning of love — my emotional attachment to Jonah combined with my commitment to protect him and to raise him to be a good person and a good Jew. And the emotional and covenantal love I experienced in that moment extended to our family and all of the members of our congregation who turned out at 10 am on a Monday morning to celebrate this wonderful simhah. It’s a love of emotion, of obligation, of passion, of commitment to always be there for each other. It’s a love I will always cherish.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ari Saks
P.S. Please join us for a special Shabbat weekend as I share more thoughts on becoming a first-time father tonight at 8 pm and as my father, Rabbi Moshe Saks, shares some words of Torah tomorrow at 10 am. See you then!  


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