Tu beAv 5781 – Love is Action

“Don’t tell me you love me, show me” How many of you have ever said that phrase or heard it from a loved one? Have you ever “known” that you are loved but have not “felt” it? What is love? How is it conveyed, how is it demonstrated?

Tu beAv is known as the feast of love in our tradition and in this short article, I am going to share how I understand love in the Jewish tradition. When in the Jewish tradition we speak of love, we do not speak of a feeling but of a covenant. A covenant between G-d and his people, a covenant between the people and G-d, a pact between human beings and their peers. A covenant has conditions, rights and responsibilities, for which I understand love as ACTIONS.

One of the ways in which we learn to be human is through the attributes that we define of G-d since we have been created in the image and likeness of the Divine. If we want to learn to love, to learn what love is, we can turn to our sources and see how G-d’s love is described. In this case, I quote from the daily tefillah Ahavat Rabbah and I invite you to be inspired by it and to think in what ways, with what actions we demonstrate and express our love to our loved ones and how we can enhance love in the world.

 [With] great love you have loved us, Adonai, our God; great and overflowing compassion you have had for us. Our Father, our Sovereign, for the sake of our parents who trusted you and taught them the laws of life; so [also] engrace us and teach us. Avinu Malkeinu, merciful Father who has mercy, have mercy on us and put in our hearts to understand and perceive and listen and study and teach and keep and do and preserve all the words of Your Torah study with love. And enlighten our eyes in Your Torah and make our hearts cling to Your commandments, and unite our hearts to love and fear Your name; and that we are never ever ashamed. Since we have trusted in Your great and awesome holy Name, let us rejoice and be glad for Your salvation. And bring us in peace from the four corners of the Earth and lead us upright to our Land; as you are God who performs salvations. And you have chosen us among all nations and languages ​​and have brought us closer to your great name forever in truth, to praise you and unify you with love. Blessed are You, Adonai, who choose Your people Israel, with love.

Rabbi Tamara Schagas joins the rabbinate of Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP), returning to Latin America after almost 20 years in Israel, where she graduated in Jewish Studies and is taking a Masters in Jewish Education, both at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Tati already worked as Youth and Young Adults coordinator at WUPJ even before her rabbinic studies at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. Tati already served as a rabbi in several communities, including Temple Israel (Cape Town), Kol Haneshama (Jerusalem) and Jueva Atid (Barcelona); and acted as Assistant Director of Education in the organisation “Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel”.