Love is a universal language that transcends cultural boundaries, religious beliefs, and beyond. It is a fundamental aspect of human existence, and people express and receive love in various ways. The “5 Love Languages” is based on Gary Chapman’s 1992 book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” While the subject matter of the book is based on intimate relationships, these aspects can be applied to Jewish life. As Jewish people are often engaged with their Jewish identities in so many ways, we will explore how the 5 Love Languages connect to Jewish teachings and practices.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation, one of the love languages, emphasize the importance of expressing love through verbal communication. In Judaism, the power of words is deeply ingrained in its teachings. The Jewish tradition places a strong emphasis on the use of words to uplift, support, and show love to one another. Jewish prayers and blessings, such as the Shema, are daily affirmations of love and devotion to God. Moreover, the Torah commands Jews to love their neighbors as themselves (Leviticus 19:18), encouraging the use of words to express affection and affirmation towards others.
Acts of Service – תיקון ּעולם (Tikkun Olam),
One of the most common practices of Jewish “love languages” is engaging in acts of service. Tikkun Olam (the act of repairing the world), Tzedakah (doing charitable deeds), or mitzvot (the act of helping others) are all centrally aligned with each other. Tzedakah is not just about giving money and extends to acts of service and kindness toward those in need. Jews are strongly encouraged to engage in acts of service to their community and fellow humans, embodying the idea that love is an action, not just a feeling. This aligns closely with the love language of acts of service, as both emphasize the importance of selfless deeds as expressions of love.
The love language of receiving gifts centers on the act of giving thoughtful presents as tokens of love. In Judaism, the giving of gifts is prevalent in various celebrations and rituals. For instance, Jewish holidays like Purim involve Mishloach Manot (משלוח מנות), which are gifts of food baskets that can be sent to friends, relatives, and neighbors as an expression of love and joy. Gift-giving can also be applied to Hanukkah, although that only occurs in the United States.
Judaism also teaches the concept of “Mitzvah goreret mitzvah” or “one good deed leads to another.” This idea underscores the importance of giving, as acts of kindness and gift-giving are seen as a way to perpetuate goodness and love in the world.
Quality Time – Engaging with Jewish life as much as possible (Celebrating Holidays, Praying, Studying Torah, Observing Shabbat, etc.)
Quality time is all about spending meaningful moments with loved ones. In Jewish tradition, the observance of Shabbat (the Sabbath) provides a dedicated day for families to come together and share quality time. Shabbat is a time for rest, reflection, and connection with loved ones and with God.
Additionally, the practice of studying the Torah and engaging in discussions of faith and ethics is a way for Jewish communities to bond and strengthen their relationships. Quality time, in the context of Judaism, is not only about personal connections but also about nurturing one’s spiritual relationship with God and the community.
Physical touch, as a love language, emphasizes the importance of physical affection as an expression of love. In Judaism, physical touch plays a role in various rituals and traditions. For example, during the blessing of children on Shabbat, parents often place their hands on their children’s heads to convey their love and blessings.
Furthermore, Jewish traditions like the laying on of hands during the ordination of rabbis or the act of embracing and kissing loved ones during Jewish celebrations demonstrate the significance of physical touch as a form of love and connection.
This action can also be applied to touching the mezuzah in a doorway, a siddur (prayer book), the Torah, and visiting the Kotel and/or placing a note inside of it.
While the concept of the 5 Love Languages may not be explicitly mentioned in Jewish texts, the values and practices of Judaism align closely with these love languages. Judaism places a strong emphasis on expressing love and affection through words, actions, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. By understanding how these love languages relate to Jewish teachings and practices, individuals can deepen their understanding of both their faith and their relationships with others, fostering a sense of love, compassion, and unity within the Jewish community and beyond.