- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On July 8, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome again to “Shabbat Awakenings!”
Each Friday, I will be sending you a reflection or thought with which to approach Shabbat as a way to stir up awareness of the potential of this day. Shabbat offers us the chance to turn inward to nourish our inner life so that we have the strength and fortitude to turn back out to the world to impact it positively.
Stephen Colbert, the late night talk show comedian, in a heartfelt response to the Orlando murders at the Pulse nightclub, said, “Love is a verb.” He wasn’t joking. He was stating a fact.
With terrorist attacks spanning the globe from Florida to Iraq to Turkey to Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh, love has been lifted up as an antidote to the hate filled violence of these days.
Elie Wiesel, may his memory bring blessing, taught in every way he could that the opposite of love is not hate but rather indifference.
So when racially charged murders cross our nation from Louisiana to Minnesota and then bring more violence and death through Dallas, we have to ask, how do we make a difference? How can love help and guide us?
Hate is not new to history but neither is love. Though greeting card companies have co-opted “love” to make millions in sappy and sweet expressions, they did not create love. Religious beliefs birthed the concept as a sacred action. It doesn’t mean that love hasn’t existed since creation, but faith traditions gave it substance.
To be open to the belief that it is possible “to love the Divine with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” V’ahavta et Adonai Elohecha b’chol l’vav’cha, uv’chol nafsh’cha, uv’chol m’odecha (Deuteronomy 6:5) demands great effort. To love is not just a state of being. One of the morning prayers speaks of the way we show love back to God is through a litany of active verbs: “…to understand, to discern, to heed, to learn, and to teach; to observe, to perform and to fulfill all that is in Your Torah with love.” To love that which we cannot see is an act of faith. To be moved by that love toward ethical and righteous actions is a sacred obligation. For love to motivate us toward a greater good is religious living. To me, this is a central tenet of our tradition and the very essence of love.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” So if the opposite of love is indifference, perhaps the opposite of indifference is to act differently. V’ahavta re’echa kamocha, Love your neighbor as yourself means to be willing to alter behaviors and reactions that come out of judgment or preconceived notions. And instead, we can open our hearts and our minds with all our might to engage every ounce of our being to join together to be active partners to repair and to heal through love.
May this Shabbat bring you a renewed understanding of the power of love to create great capacity within you and others to act in every way toward goodness, hope, and peace.
If you are in town, come celebrate Shabbat together and join us for Qabbalat Shabbat outside with plenty of singing, learning, praying, thinking, and sharing the openness of the outdoors.
Please feel free to connect with me here. I would be honored to learn of your own reflections and response.