Rabbi Sacks on Love as Deed
JInsider (March 2010)
There’s a very interesting Hebrew word, chessed. Again, it’s not really a word that you can translate. It’s usually translated as loving-kindness. But what exactly is loving-kindness?
The word chessed actually means love, but it’s the love we do as opposed to the love we feel. And you know, every time you read in the Bible about Boaz reaching out to Ruth or Rebecca giving Eliezer a drink and then giving his camels enough to drink also, all of those things are chessed, meaning love-as-deed. And somehow that’s the kind of love that matters, isn’t it? That’s the kind of love that changes lives. It’s when we see the lonely and we reach out to welcome them. When we see the hungry and say, come and eat with me, share my food. Let’s just eat together. That is love-as-deed.
And I think it’s the very Jewish thing because the Greeks knew about love as an emotion. Love is platonic state, all sorts of things. In Judaism we said, yeah, that’s nice. But the love that changes lives is the love we do.