I LOVE YOU, Maybe Baby?
Cupid’s bow has pierced our hearts. Storefront windows abound with heart-shaped mobiles and chocolates packaged in red velvet boxes. Long-stemmed roses overfill the buckets lining the street corner markets. Flower delivery men scurry across town, their faces hidden behind big bouquets. Finely dressed businessmen clutch their briefcases in one hand and swing small, pink Victoria’s Secret bags in the other. As an ebullience of amity overtakes the ever-hectic Manhattan on Valentine’s Day, it appears that love is in the air. But when all the accessories are stripped away, I question, what is love? Do we know how to love? And what is the greatest love of all? Whether it is love of people, God, or country, what is the real proof that we love something? Can you be patriotic if you refuse to fight for your country? Are you a loving husband if you don’t believe in Valentine’s Day? Are you a person of faith if you never attend temple or church? Can you really love your country if you don’t vote? Who is to say that how we love is wrong or right? Could it be that Democrats love this country more than Republicans profess to? Can you really love yourself if you don’t take care of yourself? If we follow God’s decree to love our neighbors as ourselves, but in fact we hate ourselves and treat our neighbors with equal odium, have we fulfilled our obligation? If we only love what we can’t get, do we really love anything we have? If we love only what’s lovable, is that love? The group Foreigner came out with a song in the 1980s, I Want To Know What Love Is. I think they are not alone in this quest. With on-line dating growing by the minute and divorces keeping equal pace, people are continually in the search for love and yet seem to ruin it once they have it. Can it be that we just don’t know what love is? Maybe we can learn something from this week’s Bible portion in which God gives exact measurements and details of how he wants the Jewish nation to build His sanctuary. God does not leave his love affair with a people to chance, He explains explicitly what He wants. The burden is now upon His people to prove their love. How often in our lives do we walk away from a relationship saying, “I gave that person everything I have and they didn’t appreciate it? The better question is, “Did you give them anything THEY wanted.” Jews can keep a perfect “Sabbath” on Wednesdays but at the end of the day would that mean anything to God who asked that the Jews keep it on Saturday? Perhaps love is not about giving what YOU want to give or giving all you have, but rather doing what you don’t feel like doing and giving what you don’t have--be it, time, patience, understanding, and yes even materialistic things. Maybe it’s time we rejected the romanticized Hollywood version of love where lovers ride of into the sunset to some pop song and live happily ever after. In this generation where everything is easy come and easy go, even love is a casualty and subject to the revolving door syndrome that plagues our ability to appreciate and work hard for anything. I don’t profess to be the love guru, but I do know that the words “I love you” are a lot easier said than done.