I was reading a book on Marriage – Choosing to Love: Building a Deep Relationship with the Right Person–and with Yourself. The Author – Gila Manolson – tells the story of how – before marrying – her husband to be took her to meet his Rosh HaYeshiva – the Head of His Yeshiva (Torah Learning Institution). After some pleasantries, he asked her – “What is your definition of Love?” Although usually articulate – she fumbled to find a definition.
In the book – she explains the Jewish concept of love. She explains about what is real love and – fish love – love of personal pleasure or infatuation.
Love – the Foundation of Judaism
Love is one of the foundations of Judaism. Once a gentile asked Hillel – a great Torah sage – to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot (ie, the one rule that summarizes the Torah – foundation of the whole Torah) He said “Whatever is hateful to you don’t do to another person. That is the entire Torah – the rest are [relevant] details. [based upon that foundation]. ” Rabbi Akiva says “Veahavta Lereacha Kamocha – ze Klal Gadol batorah.” Rabbi Akiva Says – “You shall love your felllw as yourself – this is a Major Principal [Foundation] of the Torah”.
Love is central to Judaism. Judaism is all about Connections. The Human connection – between man and his fellow. The Self-Connection – between man and himself. The Spiritual connection – Between man and G-d / Hash-m.
Halacha / Jewish law is central to maximizing those connections. Loving oneself is also central – for if you love yourself – you can love others more.
The Essence of an Object – Look at Hebrew Words
If you want to know the essence of a person, place or thing – look at their Hebrew word or name. We call a Dog – Dog. Dog doesn’t seem like it means much. Meaning it seems like an arbitrary group of letters – for this animal.* In Hebrew we call a Dog – Kelev. The Hebrew letters are Kaf, Lamed and Vet. Kaf and Lamed – spells Kol in Hebrew – meaning “All.” Lamed and Vet in Hebrew is “Lev” meaning “Heart.” Dog lovers will understand that the Dog is “All Heart.” It wants to do the will of its master.
Ahava – The Hebrew word for Love – The Secret to True Love
Now let’s take the Hebrew word for Love. It has an Alef, Hei, Vet, and Hei.
Learning & Loving
Alef – means “to learn” – like in the word “Ulpan” Love must be a learning experience. Three aspects of learning are learning about the other’s or spouse’s good qualities. Learning to improve oneself. Learning Torah – to guide a person to act properly. One reason for marriage is for a person to improve their Middot – character traits. Really Marriage is a great self-improvement opportunity. Doing so also fuels the success of the relationship.
Give & Give Again
Hei & Vet – spells “Hav” – to give. Giving attention. Giving Appreciation. Giving gifts. Giving help. Giving Empathy. Empathy means understanding the other’s joys and pains and feeling for them. Listening to the other and speaking words of comfort will help a person better their relationship together. If a friend says “I had a hard day at work. The computer acted up – the software crashed…” Don’t immediately give them a solution – give them empathy. You can say – “Oh – I understand how it is frustrating when the computer crashes…”
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler says giving creates love. When we give to another – we develop love for another. That’s one reason why parents love children more than children love parents – the parents give so much to children – it is natural for their love to develop.
Hash-m / G-d in the Relationship
Hei is the last letter of the word Ahava. Hei represents the Hei in G-d’s name. Hei represents Hash-m. Having awe of Hash-m tremendously helps the relationship.
A Man is called Ish – Alef – Yud – Shin. A Woman is called Ishah – Alef – Shin – Hei. If you take away the letters of the name of G-d – Yud and Hei – the man and the woman become Esh and Esh – Fire & Fire.Knowing that Hash-m is present – calms the relationship. One will not lose all restraints – because they will know that Hash-m is watching. The respect for the other remains more in-check.
- *In a previous article – we explained that the origin of English and other Latin languages – was composed by Jews. They composed many English words from the Hebrew – There is another article on that subject as well. My hypothesis is – it is possible that the word Dog – comes from the Hebrew word – “Da-ag” meaning – to worry. The Dog worries about its master and itself.