The Torah is known by many descriptors: G-d’s Law; teaching; instruction; commandments, etc. But did you ever stop to think that the Torah is not just how we are to live with each other but how we are to live with G-d as His beloved spouse? The Torah is aptly likened to a marriage contract between G-d and his “wife,” the people of Israel—a sort of ketubah. Although it does not fit that metaphor perfectly (a marriage ketubah is the contract which primarily secures the rights of the bride, not the rights of the husband), it’s a similar concept. Within marriage, a wife should want to please her husband by whatever she does for him according to his wishes, likes, dislikes and preferences as she comes to know him in the course of their marriage. When she learns what he loves, what love means to him and how he receives or feels loved, then she learns his particular “love language.” So when we think of the spousal character of the relationship between G-d and us, we could think of the Torah as His “Love Language.”
For example, my husband, of blessed memory, used to love his eggs soft-scrambled. If I served him eggs sunny-side up, he might eat them, but it’s not really what he preferred. However, there were certain other foods that he hated and if I served them, surely the dog would have enjoyed the meal because my husband would not have touched it! Of course I served him what he liked because, beyond nourishment, it was one of several ways for me to express my love for him. So consider our God: He tells us in the Torah how to love him. In fact, Yeshua and the disciples tell us on many occasions that to “love” God is to keep His commandments (Torah).
God tells us exactly what pleases Him and exactly what offends Him. Exactly how He wishes to be served and honored and exactly how He wishes to be loved. And it’s great that we do not have to guess or be a mind-reader. He tells us plainly. So if we love G-d, then the things that He asks of us, such as waving the lulav and etrog before Him as we celebrate Sukkot, are our expression of love to Him. During Sukkot, one might observe a religious man meticulously selecting each of the “four species,” including the perfect etrog. Why be so picky? Because this is his loving gift to his beloved!! When you give a gift to your beloved, don’t you want to give the very best you can? And we should give them not out of duty or obligation but out of love and a desire to please Him.
Each year as the High Holidays end and the festival of Sukkot comes to a close, we roll back the Torah Scroll and begin afresh in the book of Genesis. It provides us with another opportunity to understand and appreciate how to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our strength and all of our mind—to refresh and renew our relationship with our “first love.” L’shana tovah (To a good year)!