Off the Pulpit

What Would You Give?

The first mention of love in the Torah occurs when God tells Abraham to offer up Isaac, “whom you love.” (Gen. ch. 22)

Why should the Torah choose this improbable moment to mention love for the first time? For a moment let us set aside all the other questions involved in the very difficult story to ponder why love is introduced here.

All love has an element of sacrifice. The Hebrew word for sacrifice, Korban, comes from the root “to draw close.” When you sacrifice for another you draw close to them. One of the reasons we so treasure our children is we have given them so much. The idea is suggested in the Hebrew word for the Isaac story: “Akedah” – binding.

All relationships require offerings: to be betrothed in Jewish tradition one must give a gift. Most importantly, to love another as friend, family, partner, you must make an offering of yourself. We often ask those in love, “What do you feel?” We might better ask, “What would you give?”