A number of years ago I heard a story from a well known rabbi. His father called him up and told him that he was flying in to NY for a visit. His plane would arrive at 2:30 in the afternoon and he expected his son to come to the airport and pick him up. “Avi, my plane lands at 2:30, please pick me up.” His son responded, “Abba (Dad) I love you very much but I can’t pick you up but don’t worry I will send a car for you.” His father insisted, “Avi, I said my plane lands at 2:30 and I would like you to pick me up at the airport.” Once again he responded, “Abba, I love you very much, I just can’t pick you up. I will send a car for you.” As if he had not heard his son he once again insisted on being picked up at the airport personally by his son. Once again the son responded, “Abba, I love you with all my heart and soul but I just can’t reschedule my meeting. I will send a car.” Exasperated, his father finally said “Avi, stop loving me so much and just pick me up at the airport!!” Then he slammed down the phone.
As Jews we are very suspect of the word love. The Bible only commands three types of love: Love your neighbor, love God and love the stranger. That’s it. No command to love your children, your spouse or your parents! Pretty amazing. Perhaps in those relationships love is a given and does not need to be commanded but when it comes to love of the stranger, a neighbor and God it is less so of a given. It is something that we need to work on and to find a way to love.
How do we love? What does love mean? Here is a very powerful and perhaps life changing teaching. The Hebrew word for love is ahava (אהבה) and the root of that word is hav (הב) which means to give. In other words the very definition of the word love is to give.
When you love someone you must be willing to give. The deepest and truest expression of love is when you give of yourself to another. Loving your children means giving them time, support, encouragement—the key is giving. If you never make time to play with your kids, talk to them, listen to them then something is deeply lacking. Same is true of a spouse.
It is also true of God. Loving God means finding time to give to Him. Studying the word of God. Helping God’s children through acts of kindness.
Finally if you truly love Israel then you must give to her as well. There are many ways to do this. You can give of your time by staying informed, writing letters to elected officials. You can teach others. An excellent way would be to join our pro-Israel community bringing Jews and Christians together in our mutual Biblical love for Israel. You can subscribe to our emails, bring us to your community to speak, volunteer your time and skills, you can partner with us and support this important work that we cannot do alone.
Bottom line: Love is to give so if you say you love Israel and you mean it, you have to find a way to give.