Two Kinds of Love in the Promised Land: The Fallacy of Loving Without Institutions

August 28, 2016

In Parashat Eikev in Deuteronomy, we find some new tones and nuances in Moses' explications of the covenantal love that will be necessary to build a nation and a society in the Promised Land.  (In fact, the very word "love" --ahavah-- appears a lot here in Deuteronomy, e.g. that we must not only not oppress the stranger --as stated previously in Torah-- but that we must love them actively.) Two of these explications are rehearsed twice daily in our prayers that go with the Shema.  One focuses on the covenantal love of an individual qua individual and one of an individual qua part of a collective.  We live in a society today that cannot relate to the latter.  Every institution from government to education to religion are all as corrupt --we believe-- as the corporations that have been instrumental in our decline.  And we have reason for our skepticism and despair.  Millennials think they can build economies by writing an app in their living room, be religious by liking certain authors and hitting the yoga mat, and wisely be skeptical of all institutions.  But the second kind of covenantal love teaches us avoid the fallacy of thinking that the first kind of love is enough. Which one really produces the results of changing the world?  Which one is the foundation of Yom Kippur?

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