"It is intentional love. It is commitment to love no matter what. It requires thought and action." -- Gary Chapman
This week we read about "the covenant and the love" that Hashem has for us. These are two separate relationships. When we speak of a covenant, we talk about a commitment to shared goals and actions. We talk about a deal made between Hashem and us long ago. And we talk of our commitment to that deal and the consequences or keeping it or of violating it. The relationship is one of obligation.
Love is a different matter. Love is an outpouring of emotion, a torrent of goodwill which makes us weak at the knees, which loosens our resolve, which brings us closer to someone else whether we wish it or not. So too for G-d. We are told this week, again, of how much G-d loves us, of what He will do for us. We believe that our relationship with Him is eternal, and for all of that eternity, it includes not just the deal, not only the covenant. It also consists of love.
We live in a difficult time. Our current period is one in which we feel the harshness of the world more than we are used to, when obligations heap upon us, and the consequences for violating them seem increasingly severe. Not only are the fines getting bigger, not only are the rules getting stricter, but it is becoming increasingly clear that lives depend on our ability and willingness to comply. At times like this, the joy in our lives is restricted to a smaller area, the areas surrounding us seem like a great grey mass which prevents that warmth from reaching us.
However, we must always remember that we are loved. He loves us even when our lives aren't as we wish. He loves us even when we can't go more than five kilometres from our homes. He loves us, no matter what. What we learn from this is that sometimes the stark wall of obligation which sits between us will be smoother and higher, but the gate which allows the love to pass through is forever open. It's on us to look around, to find the path so that we can make our way through to the other side, and bask in the warmth of His presence once again.