Happy (Jewish) Valentine’s Day 


In case you didn’t quite catch it, there is a love theme going on in this week’s email.

Valentine’s Day is February 14. And while it is not really a Jewish holiday, the celebration of love most certainly is.

It’s origins are with Rome and the Catholic Church. According to an NPR report, “From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain…The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be…coupled up.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men – both named Valentine – on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century AD [CE]. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.”

However, Judaism cornered the market on love long before that. Just read the Song of Songs. (I warn you: it is rated for mature-audiences only). Some of the prophets spoke about Israel’s relationship with God in terms of romantic love. In Hebrew, love is “ahava.” Some say it is rooted in an Aramaic word, “hav,” which translated literally as “to give.” When we give of ourselves unconditionally…isn’t that the definition of love?

As folks celebrate Valentine’s Day with cards, flowers, candy, and special meals, ask this simple question: What are you willing to give unconditionally to? A person? An idea? Remember, love means no stipulations, no qualifications, no “if only.” Whatever “it” is, know that you are in love and that you give the gift of love. May each of us receive and give such love.