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    Rising in love – Chayyei Sarah

    A_Jewish_Wedding-1903The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah started with falling in love.

    At least that’s one way of translating what Rebekah did when she first saw Isaac: vatippol me’al hagammal, “She fell off her camel”.

    Other translators say, “She alighted from her camel”, which is probably correct from the rational point of view but removes the drama and the emotion.

    Something impressed Rebekah, but was it enough to found a future and create a marriage? Did they actually love each other?

    The Torah says they did: “Isaac took her to the tent of his mother Sarah and he loved her”.

    Very nice: they got married and then the love began.

    We can forgive the text for emphasising Isaac’s love for Rebekah without adding that Rebekah loved Isaac, but was there no love beforehand?

    What the Torah is saying is that instinct on both sides (and a shrewd matchmaker) told them they were right for each other, which is probably more important than the glib romantic assertion that engaged couples use before marriage, “We love each other!”

    The question is how to define love. The word is so over-used that one can’t be sure what it really means any more.

    The Torah concept has much to commend it: love is what grows as you become “an item”, not just a couple who enjoy one another’s company, but a partnership where the couple find fulfilment in sharing every moment, every height and depth, every private and public moment, building peace and trust every day of the journey.

    As Pinchas Peli says, the real verb of love is not falling but rising, not falling in love but rising in and through love.

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