Stirrings of Elul: Love Songs
“I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” (Song of Songs 6:4)
I took the wrong iPod with me this morning on my hike. I turned it on expecting to hear my father zt”l delivering an advanced Talmud lecture, instead, the Beach Boys blasted my ears with a love song. (I assure you that it was not a good trade!) For completely religious reasons – we are about to enter the Hebrew month of Elul, the month of love, as expressed in the verse above – I decided to listen to the Beach Boys, Elvis, Alabama, Gypsy Kings, Santana etc. sing about love.
I admit that the music added energy and bounce to my walk. I did the three miles in 30 minutes. I was surprised to realize that most of the songs were about love, and I laughed. All the artists sang about love with conviction, passion, and feeling, but, I gotta tell ya’, none of them are people who have succeeded at love. I checked some of them out on the web and most have been married two or three times and have bounced from one “love” to another faster than I can walk my three miles.
They do make a lot of money. People want to hear what these brilliant artists have to say about love. There are always relationship books on the bestseller lists. Classes, lectures and programs about love are usually packed. People want to know about love.
I wonder: What do we know about love? Always an important question; essential to our Elul.
You are not going to read Simcha Weinberg’s expert opinions and advice about love. Whatever I believe is empirical and deeply private. I do know one thing: The Torah often uses “Know” to mean love, as in “Adam knew his wife.”
Perhaps love begins with a desire to know someone, as Maimonides describes the process of achieving love of God: One learns about God, and the more one knows God, the more one loves Him.
Elul is not about love songs. It is about a wish to know God. We will face Him, so to speak, on Rosh Hashana, and we can spend this month getting to know Him. The love will come.
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