Justice, peace and love are the foundational values of Jewish living.
We are supposed to love God with all our soul, with all our might, with all our being. It is not clear exactly how we do that, but, if you ask me…..it is even harder to imagine how we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves….
Love is basic. Love is emotional. Love simply, is. And yet, for all that we understand the value of love on so many levels…love is also complicated.
Our Parsha touches on the subject of human relationships. Sometimes our relationships are loving. Sometimes they are adversarial. Sometimes they are respectful. Sometimes they are tinged with jealousy or with anger.
Torah reminds us that love, important as it is, must always be tempered with justice and with peace.
In our Parsha, the Torah helps us to unravel the secrets of love, by touching on various scenarios that begin with love within a family setting: the love of a captive woman, the love of parents for one another, the love of parents for their children. Then, our Parsha subtly reminds us of the pitfalls of love. Love can lead to jealousy, to favoritism, and even to hate. Love is complicated.
Our Parsha also touches on our relationship with others, beyond our family circles. Here too, as we learned of familial relationships, we are taught to show love, concern, respect, and above all, we are to remember that love can lead us to be blind to the needs and to the feelings of others. When we pay attention to our close friends and neighbors, but neglect the strangers in our midst, what happens then? How is our society affected?
And so, Torah teaches us how to treat our family members and also how to treat the stranger. So that our love, or lack of love, does not reflect the totality of the nature of our connections with others.
Love is good. Love is one of our foundational values. We are supposed to love God, completely. And, we are supposed to do our best to love others as well…..
But, Torah teaches us to do our best to make sure that the love we do feel for one another, on the human plane, does not lead us to strife!
Love must always be tempered with justice, to help us to ensure peace in our homes, in our cities, and in our world. And, peace is valued so highly in our tradition that the concluding blessing of the Amidah prayer is always the blessing of Shalom [Peace]. And, no less importantly, we are taught in the Talmud that one of God’s names is: Shalom [Peace]!
May we be blessed with the joys of love, and may our love always be tempered with a sense of justice, enhanced by the blessings of peace.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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