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236 Kane Street / Brooklyn, NY 11231 / 718 875-1550

Love: Jewish Reflections

L’Fi Dati: As I See It

A message from Rabbi Weintraub
Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, Late Night Study Session
Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 8:00 PM

Here, by way of an old Jewish folk tale, is one of my favorite fish stories:

A simple Jewish fisherman casts his net and brings in an unusually large pike. He is elated: “What great luck! The Baron love pike! I can take it to the Baron and surely gain his favor! The fish, hearing this, decides “Well, there is still some hope for me.” The fisherman brings the fish to the Baronial estate, where the guard at the gate asks “What do you have?” “A pike” replies the fisherman.” “Great,” says the guard, “the Baron loves pike.” The fish, although increasingly short of breath, hears that he is loved, and again feels hope. The fisherman carries the fish into the Baronial house. He enters the kitchen, where the head chef compliments the fisherman and again corroborates the Baron’s love of pike. The pike is placed on a table. After a moment, the Baron enters. The size of the pike brings a broad smile to his face, and he starts to give instructions: “Cut off the tail! cut off the head! Slit it lengthwise!” The fish, now despairing, with its last breath cries: “Why did you lie! You don’t love pike. You love yourself!”

Love is one of the most exalted emotions, and yet the word “love” is used so often, and so loosely and casually, that it often loses meaning. We love freedom, our parents, learning, but we also love Instagram and sushi.

Jewish texts and traditions greatly value love, as an emotion, process and ideal. In fact, the Torah three times commands love. It is a positive Mitzvah to love G-d (Deut. 6:5), to love the stranger (Duet. 10:19) and to love one’s neighbor (Lev. 19:18).

This year on Tuesday, June 3, at 8:00 PM, at our annual late night Tikkun Leyl Shavuot study session, we will explore how Jewish texts from the Bible to modern Jewish philosophy address the challenges of love:

What are the elements of love?
What is the relationship of love and hate? love and indifference?
How can the Torah positively command love?
What experiences foster love?
How can we avoid possessiveness and jealousy in relationships of love?
“Since ‘I love you’ necessitates an “I”, can love ever be selfless?
To what extent is love blind?

All texts are in English translation, and members of the congregation will join me in teaching. We start with a Ma’ariv evening service at 8:00, and begin to study by 8:30. Coffee, tea, cold drinks, fruit and “noshes” will be provided. You do not need any prior background in Jewish study. The only requirement is an open mind and desire to learn. The schedule is casual; come and go as you wish.

With early wishes for a Chag Samei’ach, a Happy Shavu’ot,

Rabbi Weintraub

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