A Place Where Love DwelledJuly 20, 2023 - 12:00 am
“‘I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.’” — Ezekiel 37:22
These devotions explore the Jewish perspective of love. In Hebrew, the word for love is ahava, which comes from the root word, hav, “to give.” In Judaism, to love is to give. Giving to others enables us to love one another.
One of my favourite stories in Jewish folklore teaches us how God chose the site of the Temple. There were two brothers who lived nearby and shared the land between them. Despite the fact that the older one had many children and the younger one lived alone, the brothers divided the harvest equally. During one abundant year, the family man worried for his single brother. “He is all alone—who will support him in his old age?” In the middle of the night, he secretly brought several sheaves of grain to his younger brother’s storehouse.
Meanwhile, the younger brother was also concerned. “How will my brother support so many children?” he asked himself. So, he snuck over to his brother’s storehouse with several sheaves of grain. In the morning, both brothers were puzzled to discover that they had the same amount as before.
This went on for several nights until the two brothers bumped into each other on the way. They finally understood what had been going on and embraced in brotherly love in the moonlight.
A Place Where Love Dwelled
God decided that the place where the two brothers met, Mount Moriah, would be the site of His future home because it was a place where love dwelled. The love between the brothers invited God to dwell with them in that space.
Ezekiel prophesied that the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom and two of the Southern Kingdom would ultimately unite into one. He continued: “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever” (37:27-28).
The Jewish sages explain that the two prophecies are connected. God will only dwell among us when there is love between people. There are many ways to bring God into the world, including prayer, study, and ritual. However, the story of the brothers and the prophecies of Ezekiel remind us that unless we love one another, God cannot find His place among us.
Your turn: Try to see the struggles of others and reach out to help them.