Love is in the air!
We can smell it as soon as we enter our local pharmacy and grocery stores as wafts of flowers and chocolate stimulate our senses in an attempt to remind us that Valentine’s Day is near. Pink and red cards and heart shaped boxes greet us everywhere we go, and it is difficult to escape the social pressures that this Hallmark holiday places on friends and lovers every year.
Valentine’s Day is one of those uniquely American celebrations like Thanksgiving and Halloween. It does not belong to Christianity, Judaism or any other faith. If it belongs to anyone, it belongs to the card makers, the florists and the chocolatiers of the world.
While Valentine’s Day may not be a religious holiday, its primary focus is something all religions promote as the expression of love, romantic or otherwise, is central to every faith. Love is the seat of goodness, kindness, compassion and understanding. Love is the emotion that drives empathy and caring, and it is an emotion that each of us tries to nurture throughout our lives.
Love keeps us grounded. Love keeps God at the forefront of our actions. Love opens the heart to the possibilities of healing and growing and learning, even from the discords and conflicts of life. Indeed, LOVE is a value deeply rooted in each of our traditions just as it is hardwired into the human soul.
Every faith seeks to nurture this divinely given attribute, and yet – despite our boundless efforts to cultivate love – our world continues to be plagued by hatred, mistrust, anger and violence. A celebration of love may be exactly what we all need.
So. . . Even though it may not be a Jewish holiday, this year we have a speical opportunity to add a little Shabbat to our Valentine’s Day or a little love to our Shabbat. Whichever way you may choose to observe it, may this coming Shabbat be filled with the love and joy that comes with friendship and romance.