February 2022 Message
Ahhh, love… What a concept! And many of us devote this entire month to exploring just how to say those three little words, “I love you,” best.
Aside from Hallmark and chocolatiers across America, Judaism has much to say on this very theme. We are told to “Love the Lord with all our hearts, soul and might” in the very first paragraph following the central prayer of our tradition. But, how, exactly, are we meant to do this?
Parents are happiest when their children get along and, perhaps, this applies to G-d, the Ultimate Parent, as well. When we are kind to others, our parent doesn’t have to work as hard devising lessons to teach us how to love. So, maybe, treating one another kindly is a way to show love—to G-d, as well as to those with whom we share the planet. Kindness, like love, can take so many different forms and if one form doesn’t fit, there’s always another.
Avoiding the tendency to gossip may be a way to show love, as lashon hara, the evil tongue, hurts so many. Sharing our bread, our gently worn clothes, making peace where there is strife and comforting those who need healing most are all ways for us to love.
To love G-d we must love one another, but sometimes it’s difficult to do this when we haven’t yet begun to love ourselves. Selfish, you say? Our sage, Rabbi Hillel, the one who said, “If not me who; if not now, when?” also said, “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I?” Love truly, like most of life, begs for a balance: loving ourselves, loving others and loving G-d. Sounds like a lot after this last challenging year, but even enjoying a whole box of chocolates begins with one little bite.