75 words for 75 years of Israel – Ahava/Love

April 27, 2023

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

אַהֲבָה

AHAVA

AH-HA-VA

LOVE

“You shall love Hashem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

ואהבת את יהוה אלהיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך ובכל מאדך

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against members of your people. Love your fellow as yourself: I am God.” (Leviticus 19:18)

לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה

In our relationship with God and in our relationship with others, the Bible tells us to love. But what does it really mean to love?

The Hebrew word for love, ahava, contains the root word hav, which means “to give.”

According to the Bible, loving and giving are deeply intertwined. Superficially, people believe that we give to those we love. But the truth is actually the opposite: we love the people we give to. The act of giving creates closeness, connection and love.

In our relationships with others, God wants us to be givers, not takers. We are meant to emulate God Himself, to share and provide others with what they need rather than trying to take what we can from them. 

The Bible also commands us to love the stranger: “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19). How can we find the motivation to love and give to someone who is a stranger? We must believe, in the depths of our hearts, that every human being is created “in the image of God.” That alone is reason enough to love the stranger.

Finally, God wants the same thing in our relationship with Him. He wants us to love Him! But how can we give to God when He lacks nothing and needs nothing from us? We study His word, strive to fulfill His word in our lives and work to build a world that is based on His word.

The Israel Bible Team

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