Tonight marks the holiday of Tu B’Av, commonly thought of as Israel’s answer to Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love. Ironically the most famous Torah verse of all occurs in this week’s parashah: the V’Ahavta—the statement of Israel’s obligations to love God “with all your heart, and all your might, and all your soul”. This paragraph stands at the very heart of Jewish liturgy. But what can it mean to “love God”? After all, the Torah reinforces again and again that God is incorporeal and totally above anything we can imagine. How are we to love something we can’t imagine? It turns out, this week’s Torah portion offers us some useful advice on maintaining a lasting relationship.
Some say that Jewish liturgy focuses more on duty than on love. But is this true? Or is it that the type of love in Jewish prayer is no longer in style? This is not the philosopher’s “Intellectual Love of God”. There is no expectation of love without reciprocation, rather this is a relationship.