The Challenge of Real Loving

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Sender Rozesz. Sender Rozesz is a practicing attorney with a background in Jewish pluralistic education for adults. The views reflected in his columns represent his own personal views, and are not intended to reflect the views of any organizations, institutes or associations with whom he may be affiliated. For more Double Mitzvahs by Sender Rozesz, check out A Woman’s Vow, Sexual Motive, Choose Your Own Spouse, The Post-Honeymoon Journey, A Wise and Understanding People, The Blessing of Fertility, Abominations, Coitus Interruptus, Sexual Struggles,The Unspeakable Language of Passion, Cut vs. Uncut, The Silence of Bitterness, Sex and the Holiest Day of the Year, Shifting Beds and Sex in the Sukkah,Sex…In the Beginning, A Sexual Reboot, She’s My Beautiful Sister,Kosher Incest?, How They Met, Male-Female Intercourse, The First Kiss, The Power to Transform, Onanism, Daughters-in-Law and Moshiach, Issues with the In-Laws?, The Undoing of Captivity, Shift Beds – Part II, Pharaoh’s Assimilation Policy, Passion vs. Pleasure, Loving in Reverse, Music is Female, Fecund Fluids and Revelation, Sexism in the Commandments, Divine Lust, Name Calling, Mismatched Lovers, and Sex and Mirrors.

Rated PG

It’s true, isn’t it, that in relationships, reality often varies vastly from the initial endorphin-laden testosterone-driven lusty rush that inspires the relationship in the first place?

Of course you want to wake up next to this person every day for the rest of your life…right now, when she’s gorgeously adorned in her makeup, sitting under the stars on a moonlit night, with romance in the air. But it’s different when you actually wake up next to each other with morning breath, sleep-crusted eyes and drool on the pillow.

Of course you want to spend the rest of your life making her happy…until you have to actually make her happy by taking out the garbage, helping with the dishes, putting the toilet seat down, and all of the other mundane and thoroughly unglamorous acts that take up the vast majority of our lives.

For those who imagined that life would always be as heady and intoxicating as those first days together, reality can come as a rude wake-up call and a potential strain on the relationship. You might feel almost as though cheated out of the relationship you bargained for. What happened to all of that excitement and passion? However, many understand that glamor, lust and infatuation are only what gets us in the door, but the real relationship is what follows, after the chemical rush peters out (pardon the pun). And knowing that, we can prepare for it, even welcome the challenge: Am I up to the task? Do I have what it takes to maintain a real relationship? To cultivate a real bond with a real human being, even when presented with their least flattering side?

That is the true test of our sincerity our commitment. Did I really mean it, or did I just mean it at the moment? Real life answers that question. It’s what all of the other moments were preparing us for.

Vayikra – both the portion and the bulk of the entire book – is, relatively speaking, boring. After the exciting tales of the patriarchs and matriarchs, the slavery in Egypt, exodus, the splitting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Torah, the debacle with the golden calf, and the building of the Tabernacle, Vayikra seems downright monotonous. In Vayikra, G-d instructs us – in painstaking detail – in the day-to-day operations of the Tabernacle, and the different animal sacrifices and other offerings that He expects from us.

Yet for the Jews, this was meat and potatoes of their real relationship with G-d. We had our courtship, our passionate beginnings, our first passionate falling out, followed by the sweet reconciliation…but when do we start to actually live together? To serve each other? To see whether we can make our relationship work?

That’s what happens in Leviticus, beginning with Vayikra. This is where our true romance and relationship with G-d blooms, after the celebration has ended and the guests have gone home.

In this vein, there is an interesting expression repeated throughout the Parshah with respect to the sacrificial offerings, as G-d tells us that the smoke rising from these sacrifices is “a pleasing fragrance to the Lord.” Leviticus, 1:9, 13, 17, etc.

Rashi explains that Hebrew word for “pleasing” – “Nichoach” – is an acronym for the words “Nachat Ruach,” which means “pleased” or “content,” for G-d says “This sacrifice gives Me contentment, for I spoke, and My will was fulfilled.”

This, too, is an important lesson for those in or approaching a committed relationship. Too often, we expect that the power of our love for and commitment to each other to magically endow us with the ability to discern or sense what it is that our other half needs from us. ‘Cuz if you really love me, wouldn’t you automatically know what is important to me?
Yet that’s not how it works. I do love you, and that means that as soon as you tell me what’s important to you, I’ll be all over it. But I can’t guess – I need to be told, guided. One day, perhaps, when we have spent many decades together, and learned each other’s preferences and noises, I will be able to anticipate your needs. But for now, in the beginning, I need you to help me learn what satisfies you, what turns you on.

So G-d explains in great detail what it is that brings Him contentment and satisfaction, and He tells us that by carrying out his instructions, we are feeding Him, satisfying Him, and holding up our end of the relationship.

As our own human relationships are modeled after our relationship with G-d, we may similarly intuit that communication with our significant other is key; by letting each other know what it is that makes us tick, what it is that gets us, we invite the other into our inner circle, and hand over the keys to unlocking a real and lasting love and romance.