Love One Another

At the risk of sounding very much like a certain Galilean rabbi of some two thousand years ago, a renewed commandment is incumbent upon us today: Love one another.

And, I would add, love those around you who are distressed and frightened, and find ways to extend your love to those outside your own immediate circles who likely are even much more distressed and frightened today than you or those near you may be. Find ways to make your love manifest, so that it is felt by those you love - today and in the days to come - especially those farther off, who may not yet have had the chance to feel your love, for it to touch them and be part of their lives.

According to Jewish interpretation, in promising Abraham that he would become "a great nation" and in charging him to "be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2), God said to Abraham: 'Until now, I blessed My world; from this moment on, the blessings are entrusted to you, it is for you to extend blessing to others' (Genesis Rabbah 39:11).

This is a day for remembering that we each have that capacity - and for thinking of how we will all exercise it, actively, in the time ahead.

"They drew near and came, each supported the other, and each to the other said, be of good courage!" (Isaiah 41:6). That is what the prophet Isaiah describes in the reading paired with our Torah-portion this week. And that is what we must do.

As a Jewish people, we know from long, historical experience how vital it is to love one another in uncertain and in dangerous times - how sometimes it can be all we have, and how it is very far from being nothing.

"For I, the Eternal One hold your right hand, the One who says to you, Do not fear, I am your help" (Isaiah 41:13) - that is what our tradition teaches is now divinely entrusted to us, to extend to others. That is what we must do for one another, and for those farther off who may not feel today a sense of being blessed and being loved.

"You whom I drew from the ends of the earth, and called from its far corners, to whom I said: You are My servant - I chose you, I have not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am yet with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will support you with the right hand of My righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10)

However we each understand the Source of our vitality, and the Source of our capacity to extend blessing to others - and however each of us may see this day - this is a time for each of us drawing into ourselves the fullness of all the blessing we ever have felt. And then it is a time for loving those around us, and farther off, with all our all our might and all our resolve, and all the love we can put into action.