Love is Love
For me, Tu B’Av is not simply a Jewish version of Valentine’s Day. While it is celebrated as a day of romantic love, the days surrounding Tu B’Av send a deeper message. More than three weeks ago, as we began our period of mourning, Jeremiah (2:2) reminded us that God thinks of us as God’s young bride. On the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av and Tu B’Av, Parshat Va’Etchanan brings us the Shema, which reminds us that V’Ahavta (you shall love God) is one of our core commandments.
This concept of loving God may be challenging to many of us who struggle with our faith, but perhaps this metaphor can teach us a powerful lesson. Love is not something that is only found through romantic partnership. God’s love represents the love that surrounds us everywhere: in our families, in our friendships and in our communities.
As our culture focuses on romantic love, we can remember that love comes in many forms. Studies show that single people with deep friendships and community relationships are just as happy as those who are couples. The texts we read in the weeks around Tu B’Av remind us that even those in our communities without partners are surrounded by love. God’s love, the love of friends, family and community and the love of a romantic partner are all of a piece. Lin-Manuel Miranda has it right: love is love is love is love. Happy Tu B’Av!
Abby Sosland, WGF Alum (Class 6), is the Morah Ruchanit (Spiritual Advisor) of Schechter Westchester, where she teaches Bible, Talmud, prayer and philosophy. Her writing has been published widely, including the chapter on “Crime and Punishment” in The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews. She started the first free High Holiday service for downtown New Yorkers at Town and Village Synagogue, which was featured in New York Magazine and The New York Times. Abby recently got engaged to Daryl Mazlish and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.