Summer is almost here!
There’s a funny thing about how we experience time these days. One dimension of our lives is moving toward summer. We are finishing up the school year, getting our kids ready for camp and maybe even making summer plans. There’s levity, the feeling of completion, and especially after this Covid-19 year, a relief that there is indeed light at the end of this long tunnel.
When I look at the Jewish calendar, there’s another dimension to time. Next Wednesday night is Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, the second to last month of the Jewish calendar. With the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple that once stood in Jerusalem, the last two months of the year (Tammuz and Av) are recalled in Jewish history as a darker time, in which conflict, brokenness and baseless hatred ruled the day. In this other dimension, we have harder days to travel before arriving at the newness and light that the high holidays bring.
It can be a challenge to hold both light and shadow, levity and heft together. But if you are anything like me, becoming a soulful parent and a soulful person invites me to have an open-hearted approach to time and remind us that we can expand our capacity to hold all the contrasting emotions that each day brings.
And even beyond holding light and dark together, we can move beyond that to a third dimension of time – bringing light into the dark. Rav Kook, the first chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine wrote in Orot HaKodesh, “If we were destroyed, and the world with us, due to baseless hatred, then we shall rebuild ourselves, and the world with us, with baseless love — ahavat chinam.” (Orot HaKodesh vol. III, p. 324)
While Rav Kook lived about 100 years ago in a different time and context, his Torah is as relevant for us today as it was back then. Rav Kook writes about adopting a position of baseless love to his fellow Jews. But what if we both contracted and expanded that notion? What if we developed a baseless love for our children – even when they might not deserve it, or when they do something that upsets us? And what if we extended that sense of baseless love to others in our community and to our neighbors as well?
Baseless love is a position that believes that my destiny is bound up with yours. It is a position that says that there is a living connection between all of us all of the time. Adopting and adapting a mindset of baseless love has implications for how we look at our biases, stay curious about each other and take courageous steps to heal the fragile relationships between us (both inside our families, between our families, and between us and our neighbors).
The rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent weeks is highly troubling. I was moved to watch this clip about a young Jewish man, Meir, who took a step toward baseless love by extending his arms. That is Meir’s way, what is your way?
As we move toward the warmer months and the serendipity that awaits, let’s open ourselves up to offering and receiving baseless love as we walk through the days and months ahead.
Blessings for the journey,