Parshat V-etchanan • Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11

The Power of Love

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. 
-Jimi Hendrix

The Seattle guitar-deity’s words reflect well the essence of this week’s Torah portion, V’etchanan. This parasha contains passages that form the cornerstone of our liturgy:  the Shema and Ve’ahavta. The Shema is the somewhat cryptic and deceptively terse affirmation of our faith in the one God: Adonai. But it is more than a self-directed meditation. The words compel each Jew to remind the other of God’s name and nature. To begin with the word “Shema/Listen” is to invite focus, heighten awareness and inspire action.

This is followed immediately by the Ve’ahavta, an expression of the ways in which we show love for God, practical and tangible acts that render faith more a “walking the walk” than a “talking the talk.” And its proximity to Shema is pedagogically sound:  the power of love can only be fully realized when we are keenly aware of the object of that love and our motivation to express it. More than even Jimi intended, true “Shalom,” true wholeness, integration and peace will come only when the quest for love transcends the pursuit of power.

Rabbi Daniel Weiner

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