The Transcendent Nature of Love
How to Love God
Rabbi David Fohrman
Founder and Lead Scholar
In this fascinating lecture, Rabbi Fohrman takes a look at the Shema prayer and the nature of the love it describes. Using Gary Chapman's popular theory of the 5 Love Languages, he explores the transcendent nature of love and how we humans can create a loving relationship with God.
Hey, Producers Circle folks. This is David Fohrman. I have something special to share with you this month. I did a talk in Palo Alto which was actually related to this really intensive series that I've been working on all summer long, about Shema. It culminated in a seven-part lecture series and about 12 hours of raw audio. It's a huge take on the three paragraphs that comprise the Shema prayer that we say every day, in the mornings and in the evenings.
It's the kind of prayer that you say every day, if you've grown up with it, and it strikes you as something that you sometimes repeat by rote. In really looking into it deeply, there's so much here. This intensive was a way of exploring all of that. It's been a summer project for me.
I did a talk recently at the JCC in Palo Alto on the occasion of my grandmother's yahrtzeit, the anniversary of her death. I did a piece of it which I really want to share with you this month. It was related to Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages. Gary Chapman has a theory about the ways that people communicate lovingly, or the way that they express love to one another.
That got me thinking about Shema, because in this work that I'm doing in the Shema, it began to become more and more clear to me that the Shema is a kind of love story. It's meant to define parameters and help us understand how to engage lovingly with God. It's hard enough to engage lovingly with another human being, but it's taking the idea of love and actually connecting to someone transcendent is a whole different ballgame.
I asked myself, but is it really different? If we're human beings, some of the ways we express love among humans, are those things applicable to God?
Gary Chapman's book has been a big hit and I started thinking about the content of that book. Was he right about five love languages? Are there more than five? Less than five? How do we make sense of whatever theories emerged from his research, and whatever kinds of things will come up in the Shema? Maybe Gary is wrong, or maybe Judy doesn't believe in it or the Bible doesn't believe in it. Maybe it's entirely separate.
As I began to think about it, some very interesting confluences and contrasts began to emerge for me. This talk, I think, has a lot of really practical application, as well as theoretical understanding. This is a theoretical matrix for understanding love which I think is deeply satisfying. It takes a word that is very hard to define and actually gives it some structure. I think it opens up Shema in a very exciting new way.
I'm really thrilled to share this with you. This is a small excerpt of the material I've been working on with Shema. We're working, in Aleph Beta land, to produce it as an audio series. It should hopefully be coming out in a couple of months. This is a piece of it, and I hope you listen and find it interesting. Feel free to send me some feedback. I always like hearing your thoughts. Take a listen.
Rabbi David Fohrman: This talk tonight is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, whose yahrtzeit it is. The anniversary of her death is today. Her name was Frayda bas Rav Moshe Elya. Rav Moshe Elya was my great-grandfather who was a rabbi in environs not too far away, Seattle to the north and Los Angeles to the south. My grandmother ended up settling right in between in San Mateo, just a stone's throw from here, and spending more than a decade in close contact with Sarah and Joey. Some of you may remember her from those days. She would be by often and hang out with the kids.
When we came to Palo Alto years ago, she was able to come and hang out with our kids and help raise them for a good summer when we were here, somewhere around 1999. It was a special thing to watch, a grandmother connecting three generations out with great-grandchildren. It was very special. She has a very special place in our hearts. It's my honor to be able to dedicate our learning tonight to her.
My grandmother was, among other things, a teacher of Torah. Her father, Rav Moshe Schwab, was a teacher of Torah back in Los Angeles and Seattle. My grandmother, in her own way, taught Hebrew school at Redwood City. She taught Hebrew school for many, many years in a dedicated way. Tonight's talk, which has to do with that, I think is especially appropriate to honor her memory.
This talk is a continuation, in a way, of a series which I gave in the early part of the summer here. It takes those ideas another step. If you weren't at that series, I don't think you'll have any problem following what it is that I'm about to say.
Tonight I'm discussing, as the title of this talk suggests, a whimsical notion which is there has been a popular book written on the nature of love and how we, as human beings, express love, and how we can repair and maintain our close relationships based up on that understanding. The book that I'm talking about is Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages. Recently, I've been doing some work on understanding Shema. My work on understanding Shema led me to playfully consider how it is that Judaism, or the Torah, might reflect on Gary Chapman's theory about five love languages.
You might think, what does Shema have to do with the love languages? Of course, if you look at Shema, you'll notice that one of the main themes of Shema is love, love of God. Normally, when we think of love of God, we don't think of love of God in the same breath as we think about human love and romantic love. We think of those things as entirely separate. What could this theological thing called love of God have to do with this romantic thing called love of people? Yet, when you look at it carefully, it's not clear that there's such a great difference between them.
Maimonides suggests that the type of love we're meant to cultivate for God is, of all things, a romantic kind of love. It has many qualities of romantic love. To quote the Joni Mitchell song, "Both Sides Now". There's something about "The dizzy dancing way that you feel" in romantic love which is supposed to express itself in love of God. If you really look at Shema carefully, you find that in Shema.
When Shema tells us, "V'ahavta et Hashem Elokecha b'chol levavcha u'vechol nafshecha u'vechol me'odecha," [Deut. 6:5] it's talking about almost this obsessive, all-consuming kind of love. What could be more all-consuming than a love that demands all of your heart? The Torah doesn't sop at that. It says, I don't just want all of your heart. I want more than that. "B'chol levavcha u'vechol nafshecha u'vechol me'odecha." Not just all your heart. All your soul, all of your might. What does it mean to love with even more than all of your heart? That's romantic love at its pinnacle.
As I was exploring the nature of the love that Shema asks of us, it had me reflecting upon the connections between love of God on the one hand, and romantic love in the human realm on the other hand. That's what got me thinking about Gary Chapman's book.
Gary Chapman has a theory, and I want to consider it with you tonight. Gary Chapman doesn't really give any basis for his theory, he just says it. He puts a theory out there. I want to consider it tonight and ask if there's any evidence for the theory within the Jewish framework of Torah, whether Gary's wrong or whether Gary's right, what the Torah has to say about it, and what Shema may have to tell us about it.
As part of that, I want to introduce something which seemingly has nothing to do with the Shema or Gary Chapman's theory. By the end of tonight, though, I think it will be clear how it perhaps has something to do with both. We begin our prayers in the morning with what we call Birchot Hatorah, which are blessings that we make over the study of Torah. We make blessings over a lot of things. We make blessings before we eat strawberries, we make blessings when we wake up in the morning and we thank God for being alive, and we make blessings before we learn Torah. It's part of the morning prayers.
Similarly, when we're called to the Torah, we also make blessings. What's interesting about the blessings of the Torah is that there's not one of them, but two of them. It seems like whenever you have a blessing for the Torah, you don't just make one blessing, you make two blessings. You make a blessing before you read from the Torah and you make a blessing after you read from the Torah. Even in the morning when we don't read from the Torah, we just make blessings about the learning of the Torah, you'll find that we also make two blessings about the learning of Torah.
Why? Why isn't it enough to just make one blessing? We know that when it comes to blessings, we don't make superfluous blessings. If you're about to eat a strawberry, you should make one blessing, borei pri ha'adamah. You shouldn't say borei pri ha'adamah twice on the same strawberry. We call this a bracha she'einah tzrichah, a needless blessing. We try to avoid it and we don't do needless things.
Yet, somehow, before we learn Torah, we have to make two blessings about learning Torah. Why is it that we make these two blessings, and what's the difference between them? So for example, when you're called to the Torah, one blessing that you make is "Asher bachar banu mikol ha'amim v'natan lanu et torato, baruch atah Hashem notein hatorah." Thank you, God, for having selected us for some special role among all the nations. Thank God, the giver of Torah. That's one blessing.
We also make another blessing. The other blessing is, "Asher natan lanu torat emet," thank you for giving us Torah that's true, "v'chayei olam nata b'tocheinu," and an everlasting life you've planted within our midst. "Baruch atah Hashem notein hatorah," thank you, God, for giving us the Torah. Two different blessings. Why is it that we have two different blessings?
Similarly, in the morning we also make two different blessings for the Torah. We say, "Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech ha'olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu la'asok b'divrei Torah." Our first blessing is thank you, God, who has commanded us to involve ourselves, to immerse ourselves in the study of Torah. "V'he'arev na Hashem Elokeinu et divrei toratecha b'finu." Make sweet, God, in our mouths, the taste of Torah. "U'befi amcha Beit Yisrael," and in the mouths of all of your people of Israel. "V'nihiyeh anachnu v'tze'etza'einu v'tze'etza'ei amcha Beit Yisrael," and let us and our children and our children's children, all of Your people of Israel, "Kulani yod'ei shemecha v'lomdei toratecha lishmah," they should all learn Torah. They should all know Your name, and they should learn Torah for no ulterior motives. "Baruch atah Hashem, hamelameid Torah l'amo Yisrael." Thank you, God, the teacher of Torah to Your people, Israel. That's the first blessing.
The second blessing is equivalent to one of those blessings that we make when we read the Torah. "Asher bachar banu mikol ha'amim v'natan lanu et torato," the one who selected us from among the nations and gave us the Torah. Thank you, God, for giving us the Torah.
Why is it that we have these two blessings that we make in the morning, and these two blessings that we make on the Torah? Similarly, is there a relationship between the two blessings that we make in the morning and the two blessings that we make when we read the Torah? Do they correlate to each other? It seems that they kind of correlate to each other, because one of the two blessings is actually the exact same words, "Asher bachar banu mikol ha'amim." That's one of the blessings we make in the morning, and it's one of the blessings we make after we read the Torah.
That might lead us to suggest it would be nice, it would be symmetrical and harmonious, if somehow the second of the two blessings matched up with each other. In other words, if there were two ways of saying the same thing. Are they two ways of saying the same thing? Seemingly they're very different blessings. None of the language of the blessing of la'asok b'divrei Torah, of involving ourselves in the study of Torah, mirrors the blessing of v'chayei olam nata b'tocheinu, of life being planted in our midst.
Maybe, conceptually, they have something to do with each other. If they do, then we might say, what's the deal with these two blessings? It may well be that they're getting to two different aspects of what Torah means. It's something which I would like to explore with you, what those two aspects are.
Interestingly, in one of the blessings but not the other, we speak of learning Torah lishmah, learning Torah without ulterior motives. One of the questions I'd like to explore with you in an ancillary way is what that means. If I ask you, what does Torah lishmah mean? How would you translate the words Torah lishmah?
Participant: You won't get anything back.
Rabbi Fohrman: It sounds like you do it without getting anything back for it. You do it for its own sake, you might say. Typically, that's the way we understand it. You don't do it for ulterior motives. You don't do it for some sort of external reason. You do it for Torah's sake. You learn Torah because you learn Torah. You learn Torah for its own sake.
Typically, that's how we generally understand colloquially the meaning of learning Torah lishmah. However, I'd like to challenge that with you. Let's ask ourselves whether we truly understand what Torah lishmah means. I want to challenge it to you on two grounds. One is on philosophical grounds. What sense would it make to learn Torah for its own sake? I grant you that I'm going to sound slightly heretical over here, especially for those with a little bit of yeshiva training. In the yeshiva world, there's nothing we prize more than learning Torah lishmah. Please hold back on throwing stones at me now. Let me just give the following challenge to you.
Challenge number one, what sense could there possibly be in learning Torah lishmah if that means learning Torah for its own sake. In mathematics, we have a property called the identity property. The most basic axiom in mathematics would be a=a. Now, I remember as a kid beginning to learn algebra and coming across this in a college textbook, this great revelation, the identity property, a=a. I convinced myself that this whole book is nonsense. You don't have to start by telling me a=a. If you want to tell me, if a>b and b>c, then a>c, I get it. That's an inference already, I can understand that. There's no inference involved, there's no extra information in telling me that a=a. Why do I even have an identity property? To this day, I must admit, I do not understand why we have an identity property. It's self-evident. It doesn't feel like it adds anything. It's almost meaningless to say a=a. What else would a equal? What explanatory benefit could you possibly give by telling someone that a=a?
Similarly, what explanatory benefit can you possibly give by saying the reason for studying Torah is studying Torah? The reason for studying Torah is itself. What does it even mean to learn Torah for its own sake? Now, I would understand what it means to say in the negative way. If we formulate it like you formulated it, which is that one ought not to learn Torah for exterior reasons, one ought not to learn Torah simply because they're paid to learn Torah, or you shouldn't learn Torah because of honor, or you shouldn't learn Torah because of wealth, or you shouldn't learn Torah to try to make people think that you're more religious than them. These are other things that are external to Torah. So I get that. I get it in a negative way that the wrong things shouldn't motivate you to learn Torah.
Once you turn it into a positive, though, then you're implying to me that you're telling me something about why you should learn Torah. However, if all you can tell me in terms of why you should learn Torah is you should learn Torah because it's Torah, what have you told me? You've told me a=a. I don't understand what you mean by a=a. What explanatory power have you given me? That's problem number one with translating learning Torah lishmah as learning Torah for its own sake.
The second problem with translating learning Torah lishmah that way is it's not what the word lishmah means. If I wanted to say you learn Torah for its own sake, you could imagine, if you were a decent Hebrew speaker, that if there was no phrase for it, you could come up with a suitable phrase. My sister Sarah had her first day in school today, and she had kids that didn't speak a word of English. All of a sudden, on the fly she had to translate her entire lesson into Hebrew for those kids.
If Sarah was in that sort of situation and all of a sudden had to talk about Torah lishmah or the idea of Torah for its own sake, she'd figure out a way to say that in Hebrew. If there was no expression called Torah lishmah, that wouldn't have been how she would say it. She would say limmud Torah bishvil hatorah atzmah or something like that, maybe itzumo shel Torah. If you would translate lishmah literally, if you didn't know it was supposed to mean learning Torah for its own sake, how would you translate the world lishmah? You would translate it as 'for its name,' or even better, not its name, rather 'for her name.' This leads to the question, who is she? It could be l'shem Shamayim, but somehow there's a feminine here. Who is 'her name'?
Participant: I'm not an expert at all in Hebrew, it's my weakest point. But if all of this is not for an external reason, what about for an internal reason? Feminine is often connected to internal. So I was wondering if there's a connection there.
Rabbi Fohrman: Right. So is there something inherently feminine about Torah that's almost like a womb, it has something inside of it, almost like a name inside of Torah? Torat imecha. What is this name inside of Torah? I think that's closer to what lishmah means. Almost as if there's a name inside of Torah, and it's for that name that we learn Torah, and what exactly does that mean. That's something which I hope to explore with you, in the context of understanding these two birchot hatorah and the differences between them, and the idea of lishmah connected with one of them.
With no further ado, put all of that aside. Forget I told you any of that. We'll come back to all of this after we explore some Gary Chapman together.
Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, comes up with the following theory. I'd like to critically assess the theory, but first let me put forward the theory to you.
Gary Chapman says there are five love languages. The thing with a language is that there's something seductive about a language. A language is like an operating system. It's not something you're conscious of as you speak it. Once you have a native tongue. You speak it without even thinking that it's a language. It just sounds like everyone should understand what I'm saying, because this is just how I'm hardwired. This is how I communicate. It's my operating system. It's hard to realize, sometimes, that there are other people in the world with entirely different operating systems that will not intuitively understand your operating system.
A good example of how difficult it is to wrap our heads around the fact that we do have an operating system with very distinct qualities to it, it doesn't just melt into the background, is sci-fi movies, or really any movie. If you watch a movie about World War II, let's take Schindler's List as an example. It's a fairly realistic movie about World War II. What language did the Germans speak in the movie?
Rabbi Fohrman: English, and you didn't think it was weird. Intellectually you knew it was weird, but it didn't feel weird. You had a willing suspension of disbelief when you see this monster, Amon Goeth, he's there and you could think that that was really Amon Goeth -- but he was speaking English! English, without an accent! Why? The movie maker is counting on the fact that there's a language that just melts into invisibility and is just part and parcel of your being. Therefore, it doesn't even occur to you that that's the wrong operating system. You willingly accept that of course, this is just the operating system for humanity.
Similarly, if you're watching a sci-fi movie, what language do the aliens end up speaking? English! How does that work? How do they know English? You watch Star Trek, they're speaking English. What's the deal with that? That doesn't work.
Participant: They have a universal translator.
Rabbi Fohrman: Maybe, in the more sophisticated ones there's a universal translator.
Participant: That was their default so they didn't have to deal with it.
Rabbi Fohrman: I guess so. It's strange, how is it that we understand that? Gary Chapman argues that the problem with language is exactly that. Language, this operating system for communication so easily becomes invisible to us that there's something about human nature that once you have a certain language, you have to sort of jolt yourself to realize that the person who you're talking to might not have the same operating system and might not have any idea what it is that you're saying.
Languages come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. If you come from certain areas of the Jewish world and if you've been in yeshiva for enough years, there's a certain yeshivish language that you'll begin to speak and you won't realize that folks speak in regular English and that this sounds strange. The real problem, Gary Chapman argues, is once you start talking about love. You both might speak English, but he argues there are languages for love, too. There are operating systems for love, and it's easy to just think that your partner has the same operating system as you do, the same way that the German's speak English, but it isn't true. Everyone has different operating systems for love. You need to pay attention to what your partner's operating system is. If you don't, you are going to get crosswire communications. Crosswire communication in love can be dangerous.
In other words, you can think you're being the nicest guy in the world, the nicest girl in the world. You're trying to be helpful, you're trying to express love, but you're expressing love in your language. In German, or in Sudanese, or in Sanskrit, your expression of love doesn't mean love the same way it means love for you. Now it's problematic because your partner is offended, because your partner thinks you never do what it is that they want, because you don't understand their language for love. This is Gary Chapman's idea.
Therefore, he says it's a great thing for everyone to be aware first of all of what the different love languages are. You can't think that you're going to go out in the world and communicate with humanity, if you aren't aware of what the different languages of humanity are and what they sound like and what they mean. That's the first thing you need to do, understand what these love languages are. The next thing you need to do is identify which one you're speaking and which one your spouse or your loved one speaks. Then you can be able to communicate between them.
What are these different love languages, these different ways of expressing love? Gary Chapman argues that there are five of them. In no particular order, he would say acts of service. You wake up in the morning, I look at you and you look thirsty and I know oh, she likes orange juice. She looks like she could use a glass of orange juice. I go to the kitchen, I bring you a glass of orange juice. That's an act of service that I have done for you. That's one way that we can express love.
Another way we can express love is spending time together. Come, let's hang out, let's take a walk around the block, let's sit on the couch and look in each other's eyes. Let's watch a movie together. Whatever we do, let's just spend time together. That's another possible love language, another way that love can be expressed.
Another way love can be expressed is through gifts. I can buy you flowers. I can buy you a bracelet. I can buy you a trinket, it could be a car. It doesn't make a difference. I give you some sort of gift, and that's another way of expressing love. That's number three.
Number four is physical touch. I could embrace you, I could give you a hug. That's a way we express love.
Another way we express love is what Gary Chapman calls words of affirmation. I could say wow, I'm just blown away, this dinner that you made was just spectacular. Or you know, you're the most caring person I know, I can't even believe the way you dried the tears of your cousin last night. These are words of affirmation. It's another way of expressing love. These are Gary's five ways of seeing love.
The question I would ask you is, is Gary right? Is he right, first of all, that there are, in fact, five love languages, and no more or no less than five? Is he right that all of these are love languages? Is he right that this is an exhaustive list of love languages? So the first question I would ask you to consider is, is he right? Are there more or less love languages than these, or is he right that there are five?
The second thing I would ask you to consider is, if he is right, it seems strange that there are just sort of randomly five love languages in the world. In other words, it seems like there would have to be some relationship between these five. One way of seeing it is, there just happen to be five random love languages in the world, almost like I might say, there happen to be in this room a clock, a few chairs, some tables, some books, and a plant. That's very haphazard. There just happen to be five things here.
So it could just be haphazardly, the way God made the world is that human beings just happen to have these five love languages. Don't ask me why; it's a blind fact. They don't come from anywhere. They don't have any relationship with each other. There's no more understanding that you can garner other than this blind fact that these are the five ways that human beings express love, and don't talk about it anymore.
Or you can be curious and say, no, there's more information here. Why are there five love languages? What relationship, if any, can I define between these? Is there a way in which one relates to another? Is there a way in which two relate to another two? Is there some sort of matrix I can create that helps me understand how they relate to each other, and therefore why there's only five of them, because that's what the matrix allows for? Something like that. An exploration of the relationship between these love language would help us peel back a layer deeper and if we can define the relationship between them, we can begin to understand why it's not just a blind fact that they exist, but maybe where they're coming from and why they're there.
So the relationship between them, a matrix between them as a key to understanding why. That's what I want to do with you. So question number one, is he right? Are there more than five or less than five? Let's entertain that first. Question two is going to be, can we define a relationship between them?
Participant: My first question would be, what does Gary Chapman say? Does he defend it, before we even delve into it, that there are five and not six?
Rabbi Fohrman: I read the book a long time ago. I haven't read it recently, so I can't promise that he doesn't defend it more than that. I don't think he does. That's my recollection of it. I think he just says, these are they, and then talks about it. Am I wrong?
Participant: I think he says that he conducted interview after interview after interview and he came up with this idea, but he feels that he has classified everybody that he knows through these interviews.
Rabbi Fohrman: So in other words, what Gary is really arguing is that this is what the data suggests. The data suggests, from interviews, that this is the way things are. So without arguing with Gary's data, what I'm asking is, what's the reason for that data? Let's say he's right. Is it just a blind fact that he's right?
Imagine that we were all blind and none of us could see what's in this room. Now imagine that I conducted interview after interview with 1,000 blind people that came into this room and felt their way around, and I asked them, what's in this room? Some people described tables, other people described plants, and other people described books, and other people described chairs. So I could come up with an exhaustive list of interviewees and find that the only five things that people ended up describing were tables, chairs, books, plants, and whatever else. All that does is give me a data set for what's in the room. It doesn't tell me anything about why the room has those things in them.
So I don't understand much about that plant. Why is there a table in that room? I wonder why there are chairs in this room. If I can peel back levels of understanding I say oh, you know why there are chairs in this room? Do you know why there's a table? Do you know why there are books? It's because it's a library that people actually study in. So you need chairs for them to sit at a table and they actually study the books. The plants provide some aesthetics. So now I begin to understand the setup of the relationship between things and it sort of makes sense to me why it is.
So if Gary conducts the interviews, he's not telling you why, he's just telling you what. My question is, what's the why behind it? Parenthetically, I'm also asking whether he's right. I'm not challenging his data, but maybe the interpretation of the data, the interpretation of those interviews, we can see.
Participant: Two things are missing for me. I noticed that words of affirmation are spoken, but I don't hear any love language related to listening. One thing that really connects with me is a connection, like if one person expresses an idea, the other one expresses and idea and they both get it, there's a connection there.
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay, good. I think Cindy is exactly right. Cindy is exactly putting her finger on the issues that I had with Gary's love languages, which is I think that he's wrong. There are more love languages than Gary's. We might argue there's a sixth. To be a little bit more precise, I would say Gary's not wrong, he's right. He's wrong about one of the love languages. He's classified it in too narrow a way. Which one of the love languages?
Participant: Words of affirmation.
Rabbi Fohrman: It's words of affirmation. Words of affirmation is too narrow. The correct label for it is words, not just words of affirmation. There are many facets to the words piece. Cindy is pointing out some of the facets. She's arguing that one of the ways you could express love with words is through words of affirmation. That's true. I could praise you, and that's a way of expressing love. However, there are other ways of expressing love with words, too. For example, the recipient of words, by listening very carefully to those words, is actually engaged in an act of love.
If I pay attention very carefully to what it is that you say when you talk, and I don't look at my phone and I'm not distracted, and I don't look around the room to see who else has entered who I can schmooze with, but I really focus on you. As I focus on you, I'm really listening. I'm listening for the content of what you're saying, I'm listening for the tone of what you're saying, I'm watching your body language, I'm really getting you. I'm reflecting what you're saying to make sure I'm getting you. We call this active listening.
In psychology, one of the arguments that a whole school of psychology, under humanistic psychology, really a whole branch of therapy led by Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers argued that the greatest gift one could possibly give another is listening. There is no greater gift. It's one of the most life-affirming things that we can do, when we really listen in this way. I think he called it person-centered therapy. Carl Rogers wrote a book on this where he basically developed an entire theory of psychology simply around that. He said simply that the fundamental job of a therapist is to listen in these kind of active ways, and part of listening is to understand contradictions and to point out contradictions and to reflect them back. By being that transparent listener, people grow in relationship to that. They respond and they grow in a relationship to you when being listened to.
Participant: Is it a specific case of quality time?
Rabbi Fohrman: Is it a specific case of quality time? Possibly, but I'm going to argue to you that time is actually not essential for this. Let me show you how time is not necessary for this. How could you have this kind of listening without actually sharing time together?
Participant: Reading a letter.
Rabbi Fohrman: Reading a letter would be exactly the same thing. If I were to spend a long time writing a letter and you were to, a week later, a month later, even after I die later, read that letter carefully and take in those words, that would be an act of love. Even though we're not sharing the same timeframe together. It's not like we're looking into each other's eyes on a couch or something like that. We can have that through listening, but it doesn't have to be there.
It gets more to what Cindy is really talking about with the next thing she said, which is an explanation of this, which is the meeting of the minds. There's something about a meeting of the minds which can be electric, which can be romantic. It's scintillating conversation. If you and I share scintillating conversation and we share ideas, we share something and there's that moment there you get what it is that I'm saying and it's like, oh, that's what you're talking about. I get that. That moment of appreciation, that moment of acceptance and connection is special. It's something that happens with words.
There are a number of different kinds of words. There are other kinds of words also, by the way, that Cindy didn't mention, which would also fall into love. What other kinds of words, other than praise, would fall into a loving relationship?
Participant: Words of empathy.
Rabbi Fohrman: Words of empathy, perhaps.
Participant: Words of interest, asking questions.
Rabbi Fohrman: Words of interest, asking questions. I would argue that words of empathy and words of interest are all part of listening. In other words, if I'm listening to you and you're expressing pain and I say, I get your pain and feel it, what I'm saying is I'm connecting with you over that idea of pain. I'm sharing that idea of pain that you've just expressed.
Similarly, if I ask questions, I'm asking questions in an attempt to share the exact idea. Are you saying this? Are you saying that? I want to share the exact idea. It's about that same thing. It's about connecting through ideas or feelings. What else?
Participant: Teaching. Words of instruction.
Rabbi Fohrman: I think teaching is part of that. In teaching, I'm seeking to share an idea. I would say words of thanks. If I genuinely thank you for what you've done to me, that can be a loving kind of way of using words. If I genuinely say I'm sorry for something I did wrong to you, that can be a loving way of using words. There are all different kinds of ways that we use words that can be loving, beyond just words of affirmation.
This leads to another question. Now we've just made things more complicated. If there are all these different kinds of ways of using words, is that one love language? Is that two love languages? Do each one of these different ways of using words have their own language? Can we just call it words? How do all of these different things relate to each other? How do they relate to the other love languages? Now we just made our lives harder, but we've also said that Gary's probably not entirely right. It seems like there's more to the picture than just these.
Let's do the following now. Let's leave this new category which is puzzling us somewhat, called words, let's leave it aside. We'll just call it puzzling. Let's now get to the second question I asked you about love languages which is, what relationship might there be between them, going back to our blind man's tour of the Kollel. Okay, we got it. Interviews suggest that there's a plant in the room, there's a table in the room, there are chairs in the room, there are books in the room, there are people in the room. Why are there these things in the room? What relationship exists between them?
Now let's get to what relationship, if any, can we determine between the different love languages? Let's leave out the problematic love language of words for a moment, since it's giving us problems, and just focus on the others. The others are four: acts of service, gifts, spending time together, and physical touch. Can we create a matrix almost like Sesame Street's four boxes and a matrix between them, x-axis and y-axis dividing them. What's the x-axis? What's the y-axis? What are these boxes, and how do they relate to each other?
Participant: Maybe giving, like an act of giving in different ways?
Rabbi Fohrman: Sarah says acts of giving. Good. Let's talk about acts of giving and see if that works. What, if any, love languages would you classify together as, these are giving things? What you're doing here is you're giving?
Rabbi Fohrman: Gifts, clearly. What am I doing with gifts? I'm giving a gift. Is there any love language other than gifts that feels like I'm giving to you?
Participants: They all sound like giving.
Rabbi Fohrman: They all sound like giving. Sarah, I'm going to challenge you. Everyone says they all seem like giving. Do they all seem like giving, or Sarah, can you see some of them that seem like there's something else?
Participant: It can be receiving also.
Rabbi Fohrman: Let's put giving and receiving together. Let's say that some of them are giving and receiving. What makes them loving is giving and receiving. In order to define this, what you're going to have to do is you're going to have to come up with a different category that the others are. What are the others based on, if they're not based on the fact that it's giving and receiving? What is making them loving other than giving and receiving?
Participant: They're all giving and receiving.
Rabbi Fohrman: So that's your challenge. I'm asking Sarah to defend her theory. To defend your theory successfully, you're going to have to come up with another broad category of what the other ones are that aren't about giving and receiving. Which ones do you think are not necessarily giving and receiving? Let's do this. Let's rate it on a scale of 0 to 10 of how giving-receiving-y they are.
Gifts, they're a 10. Let's say acts of service, also a 10. I'm giving you something. I gave you the orange juice. I fixed your car. I gave you something of value. Touch.
Participant: That's less, because you get something while you're giving.
Participant: It's a 10.
Rabbi Fohrman: You think it's a 10.
Participant: You might argue that you're getting something while you're giving, so maybe it's a little less.
Rabbi Fohrman: I'm getting something while I'm giving, so maybe it's a little less. Okay, I hear you. I'm not by definition getting something while I'm giving, when I give you orange juice. Maybe with touch I am, by definition, getting something. Maybe there's pleasure in touch, so maybe it's less. Does it get a little murkier with touch? I think we need to define the other possibility.
I think Sarah is right that all of them are giving and receiving, and there is a different category. Without defining it, if gifts and acts of service seem similar, is there any way in which spending time and physical touch seem similar?
Participant: You're both giving and receiving.
Rabbi Fohrman: Don't use the words giving and receiving. Can you talk about physical touch and spending time together?
Rabbi Fohrman: Sarah says mutuality. Good.
Participant: They're more personal.
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay, which are more intimate? If I would have to say two that are more intimate than the other two, which two are more intimate?
Participant: Touch and time.
Rabbi Fohrman: Definitely physical touch and definitely spending time together is more intimate than giving gifts or fixing your car, by definition. I might be happy you fixed my car, but it's not intimate. But if I spend time on the couch with you looking into your eyes, even though I haven't touched you, there's something intimate about that.
So now if I push you a little more, what's so intimate about touch? What's so intimate about spending time together? Why do you think that's so different than giving gifts?
Participant: There's more connection.
Rabbi Fohrman: As Cindy says, there's more connection in it. Enter the other word: connection. I want to argue that there are two fundamentally different ways of expressing love. Two of the love languages are about giving. One fundamental way I can express love is through giving and receiving. That is a great way to express love, but it's not the only way to express love. There's another way to express love, which is connection. Connection not necessarily in terms of giving and receiving, but just connection.
Let me put it to you in a different way. Human beings, by their nature, have two aspects to them. One aspect is that we're doers. Another aspect is we're be-ers. We just are. So some of us, if I say to you, Joey, tell me about yourself. So Joey says, well, I founded this Kollel, and before that I was the head of this Jewish student organization in Toronto. Joey has told me a lot about what he's done, as a doer, but he hasn't told me about what the quality of being Rabbi Joey is. What's it like to be Rabbi Joey, is a question about his being. There are two aspects of all of us, what we are and what it is that we do.
Similarly, in love, we express love in both of these ways, too. One of the ways we express love is what we do. So I can do some things for you. I can give you a gift. I've done something for you. I can do an act of service for you, I've fixed your car. I've done something for you. I've engaged the doing side of me in an act of love, and you've engaged your doing side in the sense that you've received what it is that I've done. There is, however, a being way to express love. I can just be with you. In other words, be with you, so there are two separate beings. When they're being together, they're connected in their being. So if I connect with you in your being, that's much more intimate. That's direct connection. Giving is all very nice, but I'm giving to you. You're separate from me. When we're connected, that's very intimate. I can connect to you when I spend time with you. I can connect to you when I physically touch you.
The great analogy for this, just to prove that we're right about this, is chemistry. What is love? What is romantic love? What romantic love really is, is a way in which two separate beings come together to create a 'we,' come together to create some sort of compound unit. There's you and then there's me and then there's our family. Coming together in love is the beginning of a family, the beginning of the creation of something that transcends you and me, us.
In chemical terms, we call this a compound. If I have two elements and I bring those two elements into a molecule, that molecule is a compound. The two elements are still there, but there is a new entity which has new qualities to it which transcend the qualities of each of the individuals. I can have hydrogen, I can have oxygen; those are my elements. Together, they're water. Water? Where did water come from? Water doesn't seem like hydrogen, water doesn't seem like oxygen. Yeah, but that's the us, that's the we of oxygen and hydrogen together.
Well, it turns out if you go to chemistry that there are two ways and only two ways that compounds get made. How do compounds get made? What do you have to do with an element, what do you have to do with an atom in order to create the compound? The answer is, there are two kinds of bonds. Bonding is where two elements, two atoms come together to create something larger than each individual atom. That's what love is, when two human beings come together to create something larger than each individual human being.
What are the two ways that atoms come together? Covalent bonds and ionic bonds. What's the difference between covalent bonds and ionic bonds? Covalent bonds are bonds of connection, bonds of sharing. What happens is, these two atoms decide they're going to share an electron. That's very intimate. They're actually connected in their being. Through that electron, they are literally sharing each other's space. They are together. They have become bonded in a very intimate kind of way. That's a covalent bond.
There's also an ionic bond. An ionic bond is giving and receiving. I give you an electron or a group of electrons, you give me a group a electrons. I give you and you give me. We share. We give and receive. This is a less intimate way of being connected.
Fascinatingly, not for this discussion, but go home tonight and research covalent bonds and ionic bonds. Research the qualities of covalent bonds and ionic bonds. Which ones are stronger? Which ones are weaker? What are the melting points of covalent bonds and ionic bonds? What do they look like at room temperature? Are they solids, are they gases? There are all these qualities of these two kinds of bonds which have their analogies within romantic relationships, within the ways we connect. Whether we're bonding by connecting, or whether we're bonding by giving. These are two different kinds of love. There are two love languages that are giving and receiving, and there are two love languages that are connecting.
Now, there's another way to break up the love languages such that there are four boxes. So far we have one axis, an x-axis, which is a being and doing x-axis. On the being side, there's spending time together and then there is touch. On the doing side, there are gifts and acts of service.
There's another way to slice this pancake, though. Instead of slicing it this way, you can slice it this way. In other words, if I say, is there anything about physical touch, which is the being side of love. Which thing on the doing side of love does physical touch seem most like? Does physical touch seem most like giving gifts, or does physical touch seem most like acts of service, fixing your car? Is physical touch more like giving you a thing, or is it more like fixing your car? Is spending time together more like giving you a car, or is it more like fixing your car?
I think it's more like fixing your car. Let me explain why. What have I given you when I fixed your car?
Participant: You spent time fixing the car.
Rabbi Fohrman: I spent time fixing your car. I spent my doing time fixing your car. What if I spend my being time with you? I don't spend my doing time fixing your car. If I spend my being time with you, what are we doing? Sitting on the couch, looking at each other in the eyes. There is time. If I'm being in time with you, I sit on the couch looking in your eyes. If I'm doing time for you, then I spend my time fixing your car.
Now, what if I physically touch you, or I physically give you a gift? I haven't spent time with you. I haven't spent time for you. Where am I operating now instead of time? Space. Oh yes. It's the Einstein's theory of Gary Chapman's love languages. It's time and space.
Human beings, we are doers and be-ers, but we exist in time and space. Inasmuch as we exist in time and space, we conjure up love out of time and space. For example, if I want to love you in time, so I can love you in being time by spending time together with you. I can love you in doing time when I fix your car.
Let's say I want to love you in space. So let's talk about physical touch in terms of space. You and I were physically separate, then what happened when we touched? We're in the same space. We're being in space together. When I'm being in time together with you, I'm sitting on the couch looking in your eyes. When I'm being in space together, I take space between us and bring it down to zero, and all of a sudden we're in the same space and I'm embracing you. That is what being in space looks like.
What does doing in space look like? If I want to do something for you in space then I don't give you my time, like I don't sit there and give you an hour-and-a-half of car fixing time. That's not what I do. I give you something in space. I don't give you something in time. What do we call giving you something in space? Something that takes up three dimensions. What have I just given you? A gift. Fixing the car together, that might be more about spending time. Fixing the car was ancillary.
What I want to argue to you is there's a perfect matrix here. Four out of the five love languages fit perfectly. I am a human being living in time and space. A human being is a be-er and a doer. He lives in time and space. I conjure up love out of that. I can be with you, I can do for you. I can be with you in time, I can do for you in time. I can be with you in space, I can do for you in space. Therefore, out of each of these four things there is a love language that develops out of them.
On Sesame Street, though, whenever there is a box of four, they always play a certain game. Which one of these things is not like the other. Remember, Gary Chapman had five love languages, not four. So not the great question is, which one of these five is not like the other. Which one of these five defies the matrix? The answer is, words.
I asked you before about different kinds of words and how we make sense of the different kinds of words. It turns out that this matrix can help explain that, but also points to a very deep mystery with words. There's something that's explainable with words, but there's something mysterious about words, too.
Here's what's explainable about words. If I take the distinction being and doing, or another way of saying that is the distinction between connection, which is a being thing. I connect directly with you in my being, or I serve you, either by doing something for you, by giving you a gift or something like that. If I take that distinction and bring it to words, you'll easily see that all of the different kinds of words that we talked about fall into one of those two groups. There is a connecting kind of thing happening with words, and there is a giving kind of thing happening with words.
If I praise you and I say, you look fantastic tonight, what have I done? I've given to you. It's a loving thing. I've given you a gift of words, as it were. It's almost like I've wrapped up these words in a bow and say, I love you, here's your little gift of words.
Participant: You even call it giving a compliment.
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, giving a compliment. Now, the reason why you might say, by the way, that it's connecting, is because what I might really be doing when I say specifically you look so beautiful, is I feel very connected to you right now, so it blurs the lines. But let's say I said something like my, that was an amazing turkey that you cooked tonight. There, I've more clearly given you a gift of words. I've talked about your skill. I've wrapped up these words in a gift and given to you.
Similarly, in a way, if I apologize to you for doing something wrong, I'm also sort of giving you a gift of words. I've done something wrong, I'm feeling bad, here's this little gift that says I apologize, I feel terrible. If I thank you, I've also given you a gift of words, in very broad strokes.
Interestingly, these three little gifts of words, praise, thanks, and apologies, there's one Hebrew word for all of them: hoda'ah. Hoda'ah is an act of thanks, when I say todah rabah. When I apologize and say vidui, that comes from the same root as hoda'ah. Similarly, when I praise you, I am l'hodot, it's the same root. So it's fascinating that there's one word for these little things that we wrap up and we give you as a gift. It's called hoda'ah. In English it has three expressions, thanks, praise, and admission. They're all these little gits that we give each other.
Cindy introduced something which is not like hoda'ah, which is entirely different, which has nothing to do with giving, but has to do with connecting. It is scintillating conversation. It's connecting in the realm of mind. It's when I'm describing an idea or a feeling and you get that idea or feeling, empathy, as you were talking about. If I'm describing my pain and you get my pain and experience my pain and we connect over this thing that I'm feeling, or we connect over this thing that I'm thinking. Then I'm teaching you this and you're receiving this. Those are very intimate moments, in a way. In a way, they're even more intimate than giving you a compliment about the turkey because I haven't just given you a gift with my words, but there's this energy that's connecting us. We feel viscerally connected.
Here's the thing. If you use the matrix, the matrix begins to explain words because there's being kinds of words and there's doing kinds of words. There's connecting kinds of words and there's giving kinds of words. The matrix completely fails at the level of time and space, though, because the words have nothing to do with time and space. They completely defy time and space. They don't take any space words, and they don't take any time words. It's not about spending time together. As we talked about, I could write a letter to you and you could read the letter five years later and we could still connect over those ideas, over those feelings. Even if I'm dead, if I leave a legacy of words, you can connect.
Mortimer Adler wrote this fascinating book called How to Read a Book. In it he argues that essentially what you're doing when you're reading a classic written a thousand years ago, is you're actually having a conversation with a dead author. You're having a conversation with them. The same tools that you use in conversation, you have to use while reading the book. You have to learn to listen carefully. There's a whole art of listening when you read. You have to suspend your own judgment; it's not about you, it's about understanding what's being said before you respond to it. There's the art of active listening. All of this is this visceral thing that has nothing to do with time and space.
Now the question is, why? Why is it that the matrix doesn't work for this last thing, that being and doing yes, but time and space no? Time and space doesn't work for words. Why? There's a reason.
Participant: Are words otherworldly?
Rabbi Fohrman: Yes, exactly. Words are not from this world. Time and space is that which this world is made of. To the extent that we're beings in this world, we express love in this world through time and space. But we're not only beings in this world. There's a part of us which is transcendent. There's a part of us that doesn't come from this world. There's a part of us that comes from beyond time and space.
This is why we have language and animals don't. Language, words, is that which distinguishes us from animals. Animals are only beings of this world. We have an expression in this world like an animal. We do have a body, but we aren't only bodies. There's a whole part of us, there's a whole part of our consciousness which is not of this world. It's not of time and space. The part of us that feels, that has emotion. The part of us that thinks, that whole part of our consciousness is not from this world.
Where does it come from? It comes from God. Go to Genesis Chapter 2. This chapter talks about the creation story. In Genesis Chapter 2 we learn that God took the dust of the earth, the damp earth, and used it to create man, and that's part of us. Then He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. There's a part of us that comes directly from Him. Breath. The breath of God somehow animates us and becomes this mind, this part of us that have all of these higher levels of feeling, of thinking. We call this our soul. We can't really put our finger on it, but somehow our soul is an expression of this. Even the word nefesh, by the way, doubles as a word for breathing, which is God breathed into us this breath of life. There's this breath in us which expresses itself in these ways.
Isn't it interesting that when we speak words, what do we have to do in order to speak them? Breathe. We became a ruach melallelah, which is the way Onkelos translates man. What is man? A breathing speaker. The way man expresses that breath that came in him is primarily through speaking. There is something through the act of speaking that we use to somehow bring into this world of time and space of ours, these feelings that we have that are beyond time and space. These ideas that we have are beyond time and space, but they come into our world through the act of speaking. That's something that we do with our physical bodies, and we can somehow translate this thing. We have this operating system that works to take these transcendent things called ideas and feelings and to bring them into the world through this operating system called language which expresses itself in the physical world through our mouths, and hence we have words.
What shows you that it's so different is that you can't box in words to time and space. I could write down words and the words are there beyond time. They are always there for you to pick up and to connect with me. When I connect with you through touch, I connect with you in space. When I connect with you through time and I sit and I share time with you, then time is the field that we share together. All of those are in the world.
When I connect with you through words, though, I don't connect with you through time. That's not the field I'm connecting with you on. When I connect with you through words, I'm not connecting with you through space. That's not the field we're playing on. I'm connecting with you through mind. I'm connecting with you through soul. It's a direct connection in the realm of soul, which is transcending time and space.
Participant: Words are limiting. If you have something that's very soulful, then words can limit that experience.
Rabbi Fohrman: Possibly. To the extent that it's an operating system, what the operating system does is bring it into the world. So to the extent that it's brought into the world, something of its soulfulness is lost. This is why, perhaps, there are some higher levels of communication which you might even say that go beyond words, which retain a little bit more of the inherent transcendent character of these things. This is song, music, laughter, other expressions that are verbal but not bound within words. They're more ambiguous, but get a little bit of that.
Words are a way of taking what we have that's spiritual and bringing them into the world conscripted, but the part of it which remains transcendent is the non-timebound, the non-space-bound part of it. It is inherently spiritual, in that sense.
Participant: I'm thinking that the purpose of what God wanted when He created the world was to have a dwelling place in the lower. There's a Hebrew expression, dirah b'tachtonim. This is like some guidance, what do we do down here that brings God in. Maybe using words to love is what does it.
Rabbi Fohrman: Exactly. Basically, the idea is the following. What Shema tells us is that we have a problem connecting with God, because God is not of this world. So four out of five of the love languages are completely useless when it comes to God, because God does not really live in time and space. He is the master of the universe.
What gift am I really going to give Him? What do you give for Chanukah, for the man who has everything? What am I really going to give God? Acts of service, what could I possibly do for Him? Physical touch, try that with God. I can't touch Him, I can't feel Him. Spending time with Him? I don't really know how to do that. So how am I supposed to express this thing called love?
Enter Shema. With one word, at the beginning of Shema, it gives you the answer, and it's what Cindy said. Listen. There are words here. Listen to the words. Take in the words, in the act of listening.
Now, listen has two meanings, as it does in English. It has a being meaning and a doing meaning. So if the being sense of listening is what Carl Rogers had in mind when he talked about the gift of love of listening, which is that I just take in what you're saying. If I really hear it and I really take it in, I've connected with you through words. That's very intimate. God says, that's a way we can connect. I have words. I wrote them down. I said them at Revelation, but then I wrote them down on these tablets of stone so that they were always accessible, throughout time and space, and you could always read them. Whenever you read them, you would connect with Me.
Why? As Birchot Hatorah say, the first blessing, God is hamelamed Torah l'amo Yisrael, the teacher of Torah to Israel. Isn't it fascinating? We normally think of Moses as teacher of Torah to Israel. Comes this blessing and says, no. God is the teacher of Torah to Israel. What do you do when you teach? If you're a teacher, you know. You think. You prepare your lesson. What am I going to say, how am I going to say it? Then you put everything you have of you intellectually and all of your feeling into these words. You just hope that your students can take those in. That's what you're doing when you teach.
It's a great act of love. We said, God, You were the great lover. You were the one who was melamed Torah, you invested everything in these words. Therefore, v'he'erav na Hashem Elokeinu et divrei toratcha b'finu, make sweet these words because they were given in love. Let us apprehend them with the same sweetness with which they were given, and let our children apprehend them with the same sweetness with which they were given.
That's what it's all about. Baruch atah Hashem, hamelamed Torah l'amo Yisrael. Baruch atah Hashem, ha'osek b'divrei Torah. So there's a mitzvah to be osek in Torah, to involve yourself in Torah. Why? When you involve yourself in Torah, you connect. I don't have to do it. I'm just connected by the meeting of minds. Every time you learn Torah and you say, ah-ha, I get that idea, your mind is connecting with God's mind. God is the teacher, not Moses the teacher. God is the teacher. You're actually connecting with God's mind. You're having a conversation with the author. The author is God. He gave it 3,000 years ago. You're still connecting with Him. It's crazy, but that's what's happening.
This thing beyond you, actually going beyond time and space, the part of you that's transcendent is connecting with the most transcendent being. You have this intimate moment of connecting. All you have to do is listen. If you understand that, you're filled with love. "V'ahavta et Hashem Elokecha b'chol levavcha u'vechol nafshecha u'vechol me'odecha," love God with all your heart, with all your soul, because what's greater than having this intimate meeting of the minds, the most transcendent part of you?
It's better than physical touch. With physical touch, your body is connected. You've brought space down to zero. Spending time together, you're connected in time. What if you could connect beyond time and space? What if your mind, the most precious part of you, you have a soul connection directly with the soul of God, that's amazing.
That's what Torah is. It is to help us understand that that is what Torah is. Listening can also mean something else, though. Listening can mean obeying. Listen when I tell you to clear the table. There's that, too. The Torah is commands. There is stuff that we're supposed to listen to. Out of that comes acts of service. I manufacture out of these words, the other ways that I can love you. I can love you through acts of service. I can also love you through spending time.
I can't spend time with God, but I can spend time with the words. How? "V'dibarta bam, b'shivtecha b'veitecha u'velechtecha baderech u'veshochbecha u'vekumecha," [Deut. 6:7] I talk about them all the time. I talk about them at home, I talk about them on the way, I talk about them in the morning, I talk about them at night. I spend time with the words. I can't spend time with God; I can spend time with the words. The words are an expression with Him. Vicariously, I'm spending time with God.
Guess what? It's not idolatry. Usually, when I vicariously have other expressions of God, we call that idolatry. If I make this little thing and I worship it and I say it's like worshipping God, that's idolatry. When I take God's words and I say, I'm connecting with God's words and spending time with God's words because I can't spend time with God, that's not idolatry. The words are this very intimate expression of God, so it's not idolatry. That's okay. I can use that as a proxy for God.
When I take those words and I write them down, and I put them on my doorpost and I wrap them on my arms and I do all these physical things to connect, to actually bring space between me and the words down to zero, so I am actually embracing the words. That's my physical touch. So I'm manufacturing all the other love languages, acts of service and all these other things out of the words. It starts, the most genuine love language there is with God are the words.
Hence, that's what we express in our Birchot Hatorah. Part of Birchot Hatorah, thank God for having chosen us among the nations to be an example. We'll be an example because we do the words. If we do the words right, if we do the doing thing of listening and we actually do the words in the world, then people see and they'll say, ah, this is what it means to be a model nation. We're chosen among the nations to be an example to others, to show what it means to live by these words. That's great. That's one part of Torah. That's the doing part of the words.
There's also a being part of the words. The being part of the words is that v'chayei olam nata b'tocheinu, there's something life-giving, there's something essential, there's something that you're thirsting just for the words. You just want to connect for the words. It's like this tree of life that, as we say in Proverbs, it's a tree of life to all who grab hold of it. I literally want to embrace the words and become one with the words, in a very visceral, being kind of way.
It's that aspect of Torah that is the sixth love language. It's the connecting part of words, it's the meeting of the mind. Every time I study Torah, and every time I have that ah-ha moment and I feel like that's what's going on, any time I'm touched, any time my feelings are touched and I feel, like, wow, that's very poignant. I feel something that God seems to feel. God seems to feel this poignancy in this scene, and I feel that poignancy. I've connected with God at the realm of feeling. I've connected with God at the realm of ideas. These are soul connections. It's the deepest kind of connection there is.
I think that's what Shema is bringing us an understanding of, of the sixth, or the broader fifth of these love languages. It's the meaning of the words. Not just the doing part of words, what we're supposed to do with the words by performing the mitzvot, but the being part of words, the way we connect with God and have that visceral soul connection by la'asok b'divrei Torah, by involving ourselves in the study of Torah.
That's lishmah. If we go to the end of the blessing, lishmah is that the words should be sweet in our mouth, that God is the teacher of Torah. If He is the teacher of Torah, what did He invest in the words? He invested Himself. He invested an expression of Himself, His own thoughts, His own feelings, as it were, are in those words.
What do we call that? We say "V'he'erav na Hashem Elokeinu et divrei toratcha b'finu v'nihiyeh anachnu v'tze'etza'einu v'tze'etza'ei amcha Beit Yisrael kulanu," we should all be, "yod'ei shmecha," knowers of His name, "v'lomdei toratecha lishmah," and we should learn Torah lishmah. Don't you find it fascinating that the word 'name' just appeared twice in that verse? We should all be knowers of His name, and learning Torah for the sake of her name.
One would think it's the same name. So what does this business of name mean? What is name? When we talk about our name, we want to have a good name in the world, name, in English, is comparable to the idea of legacy. I leave a legacy. If you think about the idea of legacy, what is legacy? Legacy is what happens after you die. What does that mean? When I'm no longer in the world, the mark of me in the world is my name, my legacy. I want to leave behind a good name. A name is the way you know me when I'm not there. All you have of me is this emblem of me called my name.
When human beings who live in the world are no longer here, we leave behind our name. The difference between us and God is God isn't in this world to begin with, so all God has in this world for starters is His name because He can't be here. So for Him not being there, what does He have as His name? His legacy. What is God's intellectual legacy? His intellectual legacy is the Torah. So what the Torah is, is His name.
In other words, the ideas of Torah are God's name. The reason why we care about Torah is not because it starts with a Tav and ends with a Hei. It's not because it's called Torah. The reason why we care about Torah is because of the name. We care about Torah because God's name is in it. Kulanu yod'ei shmecha, by learning Torah we connect, we have knowledge but intimate knowledge, as in the first time the word yediah is used is to describe intimacy between man and woman. "V'ha'adam yada et Chava ishto," man knew his wife.
We can know the name, we can have this intimate connection with God's mind through our mind. This being thing that we are actually literally one with God's mind through Torah, and therefore we're connecting not with Him. We know it's not Him, but we're connecting with His mind. He put His mind on paper, and we're connecting to this expression of Him in the world. We are knowing that expression of Him and therefore connecting to Him through that expression.
Kulanu yod'ei shmecha v'lomdei toratecha lishmah, we are learning Torah for her name, for the name of God that's in her, that's in the Torah. Torah is feminine. For the Torah's name. It doesn't mean for the Torah's own name, I want to suggest. For the name the Torah has within it, for the name the Torah possesses, which is God's name inherent in the Torah. This is the reason why we have it. We learn Torah to connect to that expression of Godliness so that we can have that intimacy with God. That's the meaning of lomdei toratecha lishmah.
Why? Baruch atah Hashem, hamelamed Torah l'amo Yisrael, because God invested Himself in Torah like a teacher, is why we can connect to His name by learning it. Those are the thoughts. Thank you very much.