Note: This Tuesday is the ninth of Av, a date that marks historic Jewish tragedies including the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Many ascribe these tragedies to “sinat chinam”, a Hebrew phrase for senseless hatred. With that in mind, I give you my most recent post… Couldn’t we all use a bit more love in our lives? :-)
I used to say that I was a hippie, except for X, Y and Z… and I would proceed to list the exceptions. As the years have gone by, most of the exceptions have fallen by the wayside. I still don’t fit the chillaxed pot-smoking hippie mold as I am a bit more of a hippie activist or doer, but I no longer shy away from the title and the goodness that comes with it.
The idea of sharing love is beautiful. The idea that each person can be God and beauty and light is beautiful. By sharing love, I don’t mean sex. The swinger lifestyle doesn’t suit me nor does it appeal. I’m not talking about polyamory, either. Since Burning Man and the Dominican Republic, we’ve made several poly friends and – while I don’t judge their lifestyle choice – it seems a bit too complicated for me. I’m down with Yair as my main and only squeeze.
But there are options in between, modes of interaction that can be actively sought after and created. I just finished reading “Stranger in a Strange Land,” a bizarre yet wonderful book that apparently is a cult classic of the 1960s. The idea of “water brothers”, friendships that go deep and don’t have to stick to artificial social boundaries, is inspiring in a utopian sort of way.
Once you leave the halachic framework of touching (essentially only allowing touch between husbands and wives during certain parts of the month) but don’t go as far as the other lifestyles mentioned above, everyone’s physical interactions become a subjective question of where to draw your line. Some people are comfortable snuggling with friends and even having sleepovers, whereas others draw the line at a cordial hug or high five.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to chat with someone who decided to push those lines herself. She shared with me her experience of taking her perspective on life and touch and beauty out of the theoretical realm and putting it into practice.
She described the experience as “glorious”. “To caress and connect with another human being, and deepen a friendship that had been in place for years… All felt right. All was right.” She described how intense the experience was and how messy it could become, but that it was totally worth it.
I can’t imagine the roller coaster of connecting with someone physically and emotionally and deepening a friendship, but trying to stop it at only that. The power of touch must be why the rabbis tried regulating it in the first place.
I know that when Yair and I travel, it hurts just a bit when we move locations and leave behind people who we love. In my friend’s case, I would imagine that the deeper the connection, the harder it is to step away from. But to her, might the hurt be worth the beauty that is shared? Sharing any form of love – when it is of pure heart and combined with mighty respect – seems to be perhaps the greatest gift of all.
posted by ayo