There is a foundational element of love that continues to intrigue me. The Torah reads, “You shall not hate your kinfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him.” Meaning, hatred of another is avoided if we are willing to offer constructive feedback and criticism. A step further: love between two people is protected, sustained, and even nourished when we both offer and accept rebuke. So maybe the movie is incorrect. Love does mean having to say you’re sorry…and even letting someone know when they are meant to offer an apology.
But the Talmud jumps to the punchline. Arakhin teaches “It was taught that Rabbi Tarfon said, ‘I would be surprised if anyone in this generation can take rebuke. You tell a person to take a stick out of their mouth and they’ll tell you to take a board between your eyes.’ Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azarya said, ‘I’d be surprised if anyone in this generation knows how to criticize.’”
Is the sentiment true of our generation? When thinking of our own intimate relationships, do we offer feedback in a way our loved ones can receive it? Are we genuinely in a place where another’s reproofs will land and be heard? In trusting relationships, it is the ability to speak our minds and offer our hearts that allows love to grow to new heights.
It is a difficult dance that is bound to include missteps and falling. And yet, not saying anything, staying mute is what fosters anger and breeds resentment.
Love is more than chocolate and roses. Love is choosing to grow. May the love we hold grow in trust, grow in curiosity, and grow in a willingness to see ourselves through the eyes of the other.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.