What is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me
Question of the Week
I’ve been reading my friend Danya Ruttenberg’s book, Nurture The Wow (which I highly recommend), where she offers the question:
“What is love, anyway? And what does it mean to love?”
Danya says love is when “You stretch and extend because someone needs you to, so they can grow.” She gives the example of being in conflict with her husband. During these moments Danya wants to process and talk, but her husband needs space and solitude. An expression of her love for him is sitting silently so he can have what he needs to move toward a resolution.
When I read this I was at once impressed and reflective. I asked myself: when Abe and I are in conflict am I EVER thinking of his needs?! The truth is I am (usually) stuck in my own head. My own needs are so loud that thinking of him is not my first stop—that’s for sure.
I was reading this part of Danya’s book to my friend, Sara, asking her what she thought. Her response was so simple and poignant; she said, “Sounds like being an adult.” Yes, Sara, yes! But sometimes being an adult is so hard. Extending in the ways Danya describes is at once an expression of love and adulthood.
This week’s parsha begins with God reflecting upon an extreme act of love. The Israelites were fornicating with the Moabites and worshipping their god. One particular Israelite goes as far as to publicly have sex with a Moabite woman. Pinchas, Aaron’s grandson, sees this and violently kills them both, publicly. As a result of God’s extreme anger and feelings of betrayal, God inflicts a plague on the people. The plague kills 24,000 people in total. God describes Pinchas’ act as one of kinah, passionate love. Pinchas’ act of kinah quiets God’s anger, allowing him to stop the plague. In exchange for Pinchas’ fervor God offers a brit shalom, a Pact of Peace and Friendship.
What are the differences between the act of passionate love that Pinchas demonstrates (kinah) and the kind of love Danya describes?
What about Pinchas’ extreme act allows God to retreat from his anger?
What is the relationship between love and adulthood?
Think of a particular person in your life who you find challenging. How does she need you to “stretch and extend” in order to help her grow?
Peach and Tomatillo Salsa
Thanks to our Philly Food Works CSA I have learned how to use tomatillos, and discovered that I LOVE them! This salsa is perfect for serving over grilled fish, chicken, or tofu on a summer afternoon. Pair with some sangria for a true Shabbat Shalom.
5 broiled tomatillos
1/2 chopped onion - red or white
3 or 4 ripe peaches cut into cubes
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
juice from 1/2 orange
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 cobs of corn, kernels cut off
1 jalepeno, ancho, or pablano pepper, Thinly sliced, seeds removed
cilantro, basil, or both
Broil tomatillos until the outside is blackened. Peel off the paper. Pulse the tomatillos and onion in a food processor, but do not over-process.
Mix the tomatillo and onion mixture with the rest of ingredients. Add salt and let sit for at least 1/2 hour. Add chopped cilantro right before serving.