‘Olam chesed yibaneh’ – ‘the world shall be built on love’ (a creative interpretation of Psalm 89:3). To be honest, I don’t care much for a commercially-driven Hallmark holiday that I don’t celebrate but I am passionate about love. Here’s why.
Love is the foundation of our universe. Just professing that belief – even when acknowledging there is no evidence-based premise to it – is in itself a transformative thing. What does it mean to embed ourselves in the cosmology of compassion? To lift up our eyes and hearts to an ‘Ahavat Olam’, an Eternal Love?
It’s often quipped that Jews don’t talk about God, and that Jews are even less inclined to talk about God’s love. But the fingerprints of Divine love are scattered all over our scriptures, writings and liturgy. We Jews should be unafraid to confess it: God loves us. God loves all of humanity. God birthed creation out of an act of intentional love, out of ‘ratzon’ (Divine will) and ‘chesed’ (lovingkindness).
How will this truth turn our calcified hearts of stone into beating hearts of flesh? If the Ultimate is love, then we are called to love.
If God is our Divine Parent, we are called to be loving parents.
If God is our Divine Lover, we are called to be devoted lovers.
If God is our Divine Friend, we are called to be faithful friends.
If God is our Divine inner Light, we are called to love ourselves just as we love others.
As above, so too below.
I will continue to carry the love of the Holy One of Blessing through my life. This love sustains me, carries me, shapes me, encourages me, strengthens me, humbles me, dignifies me and opens me up in ways I never could have imagined.
As with all matters of the heart, there might be a reticence to share such intimacy. Even for a Rabbi, this is a baring of the soul that can leave one feeling exposed. Yet, as I reflect on the patterns of meaning I discern from my life’s trajectory, I can conclude no less than this. It is love that helps all of us be better. That sanctifies us, that binds us to the Divine and that carries us on ‘kanfei nesharim’, eagles’ wings. At the heart of our existence, one thing we know.
This ‘ahavah rabbah’ (unending love) is the great truth of our tradition. May we be blessed to make this love truly our own, to serve it deeply and to ground our world upon its strong foundations.