By Rabbi Rick Sherwin
Three times in the Hebrew Bible we are explicitly charged ואהבת – You shall love:
1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
2. Love the foreigner who comes to live with you.
3. Love the Eternal God with all your heart.
Jewish Tradition tells us that no one – not even Aladdin’s genie, not even God – can demand or summon an emotion, including love.
From my earliest memories, my father, Hal Sherwin ז״ל, would share a mantra:
“Don’t tell me, show me.”
We don’t just tell people we love them, and we don’t promise to feel love: we show them love, we act in a loving manner.
The Hebrew Bible indicates that love is more than an emotion. Life’s focus to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19.18) follows a long list of ethical actions. The charge to love the foreigners who live alongside us (Leviticus 19.34) is linked to the responsibility to be fair and just. Express love for God Eternal (Deuteronomy 6.5) by teaching our children, and by exemplifying Godly treatment at home and away, night and day.
On this “day of love” – February 14th – we pray for the awareness and ability to translate our inner love to the actions we share, so that we may be known both as loving and loveable.
Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.