The abstract, ethereal energies of the world can be arguably condensed into two categories. Chessed and Gevurah, or Masculine and Feminine. The dance of the two defines divine expression for our interpretation. We understand these as two balancing pieces, in one ultimate relationship. The masculine as associated with Chessed, through abundant giving and infinite potential; in relation to the feminine, as associated with Gevurah–an accepting and actualizing facet of bountiful potential. Although the two may be different, they are not opposites. The nature of their relationship is not contradictory, but intentionally complimentary. Just as masculine energy gives to feminine, feminine accepts as a form of reciprocation. Giving then serves as an act of receiving, and vice versa. We understand this from the most basic biology of Male and Females, to the bond between a receiving human and an abundantly generous G!d.
The beauty and authenticity of our relationship with G!d, is that it serves as the blueprint for our cosmic connection to reality. Our personal love with divinity reminds us that I need to be me for my beloved, just as my beloved must be themselves for me. The greatest love is not when we become the other, but rather more deeply ourselves. When our partner inspires us to celebrate and therefore improve ourselves, we know we can encourage them to equally fill the relationship with all of who they are.
Highlighted in this week’s Parsha, “Ki Tavo” as brought down by Reb Shlomo Carlebach:
“Here is a Modzitzer Torah which you can’t forget: It says ‘Vehaya Ki Savo El Ha’aretz’, when you come to the Holy Land, ‘Asher Ani Nosain L’cha’, which I am giving you. So the old Modzitzer, Reb Shaul Yedidya, says like this. ‘Vehaya Ki Savo El Ha’aretz’ when you come to the Land, ‘Asher Ani Nosayn Lachem’, where G!d gives you back your ‘ANI’, your ‘I’. See what it is, in chutz l’aaretz, outside the land, we have everything, but we don’t have our ‘I’.”
Eretz Yisrael can be categorized as the location of our romantic “sunset scene” with Hashem. Often said is, “To know Him, is to love Him.” Israel, as the nourishing crescent of what it means to seek and know G!d creates a haven to know and therefore love. This modern and ancient space where all of who we are can love and be loved, which then grants G!d the same blessing. The same truth is highlighted here again, our physical and spiritual relationships flourish when both essential pieces function by the fabric in which they were designed.
We often think that the magical nature of Matan Torah was exclusively the phenomena of seeing sound and hearing color, however– maybe even more transcendent, was the depth of this reality, that Am Yisrael attained the grandest understanding of love. By whispering, shouting and singing the words of “נעשה ונשמע” the creative covenant of man’s relationship to the divine actualized. We understood in that moment, that without logic or security of the predictable, that being ourselves meant being with G!d. Much like under the Chuppah, as the Chatan and Kallah do, Am Yisrael understood that “I” could no longer be “I” unless “and” was eternally connected to “You.”
Kedushat HaLevi explains that Elul, in all of its glorious call for return,( תשובה) is really just about bringing “Nachat” i.e., everlasting love and joy to Hashem. Why? Rav Shlomo Katz explains that G!d is inherently loving and giving, so when we connect the circuit of receiving to giving—we allow G!d to just be authentically and abundantly ‘Himself.’ The greatest gift we could give to another, is the open, real acceptance of who they are, to us. That’s why our words hold so much weight; with the slightest comment we can entirely accept someone, or push them away not only from us, but from themselves.
I’m paraphrasing a quote from an Israeli public figure, ‘There are two types of heights, one of heaven and one of space. The height of space can be measured by elevation, but the height of heaven is measured by depth.’ Attaining great heights in a relationship on one level may be through quantity and momentum, but true love may only come with the quality of depth and devotion over time. The power of that moment at Har Sinai does not rest in the words of “נעשה ונשמע” but rather the consistent effort to live them.
Bezrat Hashem we not only seek the highs of connection, but also the grandest depths of love. That the common denominator among all of our relationships is the pursuit and embrace of G!d. All of who we are can be known to us and those around us, which through blessing reminds us how beloved we are.