Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thoughts For Elul

The Magic Of Love
Love is like magic
And it always will be.
For love still remains
Life's sweet mystery!!
Love works in ways
That are wondrous and strange
And there's nothing in life
That love cannot change!!
Love can transform
The most commonplace
Into beauty and splendor
And sweetness and grace.
Love is unselfish,
Understanding and kind,
For it sees with its heart
And not with its mind!!
Love is the answer
That everyone seeks...
Love is the language,
That every heart speaks.
Love can't be bought,
It is priceless and free,
Love, like pure magic,
Is life's sweet mystery!!

Helen Steiner Rice

The Torah wants us to be in love. Constantly. Love sick. "Ki cholas ahava ani" is how Shlomo Hamelech put it.

In love with all of humankind [Rav Chaim Vital - Talmid Ha-Ari].

In love with all Jews. A Yid. Ahhhhhhh!!!! Such a beautiful neshama.

In love with Torah. Not being able to sleep at night because he is mesmerized by a kashya of Rebbe Akiva Eiger and ready to invite the whole world to a party when he hears how Rav Shimon Shkop brilliantly answered the kashya. Ahava Bisa'anugim. Blissfully enraptured by Toras Hashem.

And the highest of all. Love of Hashem. Thinking about Hashem, absorbed with Hashem, nay, OBSSESSED with Hashem. The Rambam is known in the academic world as a rationalist. This self-same Rambam says that we must be in love with Hashem as a lovesick teenager is with the object of his desire [see the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Teshuva]. No more, no less. He can't stop thinking about Him. An obligation just like putting on Tefillin. For me and for you - not only for the Reb Tzvi Meir's of the world. We say it numerous times a day ואהבת את ה' אלקיך בכל לבבך

I love Yeshiva. An institution whose singular focus is on creating a rare species known as human beings. No university can hold a candle to a Yeshiva.

But something bothers me. After all is said and done - how much do the Yeshiva's teach about LOVE. The loves I mentioned. Maybe they do - but I think there is much lacking. Maybe people feel that it is too difficult to strive for, so they instead focus on understanding a gemara which is a more concrete and easily acheivable goal. But the ultimate goal is NOT the Gemara. My chiddush? Chas Vishalom. We say it every day in davening: והאר עינינו בתורתך וכו' ויחד לבבנו לאהבה וליראה את שמך. That is one of the messages Chassidus brought to the world, but alas - it has been all but lost.

I often walk down the street and to the great dismay of my children, happily greet people. All types of people. Men, children, old, young, religious, not yet religious etc. People I know and people I don't. I ask children their names or tell parents that their child is the CUTEST child I have ever seen. This is not normative behavior but I have an OBLIGATION to love every single person. It is much easier to love someone after you have had an interaction with him. People are actually quite lovable when you get to know them. In fact, Chazal say that we must greet every person on the street with a happy countenance - even a gentile. "Hi Tony!!!! How are you today? How is your sweet dog, Carlos, feeling?" I find that when you are friendly to people they are friendly in return and this creates an atmosphere of comradeship on earth.

So if you are reading this - especially if you are starting Yeshiva this Rosh Chodesh Elul, try to put love on the map.

It is the key to bliss both in this world and the next.

PS - If you think I am weird, you are probably not alone.......:)