Judaism is a life-affirming tradition. But it's not just life affirming, it is also love affirming. Ecclesiastes tells us to "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love." (9:9) The prophet Hosea, recounting God's words, proclaims, "And I, [God], will betroth you [the People Israel] to me forever." (2:21) Jews even have an entire book of the Bible dedicated to love poetry, the Song of Songs. The book describes male and female lovers in a garden and relies on the senses to convey its sensual, provocative content. We encounter the smell of spices, the fragrance of lilies. We taste the nectar of fine fruit and hear the soothing sounds of a bird's song. We hear descriptions of the titillating touch of skin, of vulnerability, of urgency, of assertiveness and of mutuality between lovers. The text reads: "I grow, a wildflower thriving on your love... Sweet fruit tree growing wild within the thickets -- I blossom in your shade and taste your love." (2:1-3, translation by Marcia Falk)
It might not exactly be Fifty Shades, but for ancient text, this is pretty hot stuff. Or, how's this for a biblical celebration of love:
"Take me away to your room, like a king to his rooms - we'll rejoice there with wine. No wonder they love you!" (1:1-4, translation by Marcia Falk)
To the ancient Jewish mind, this text was considered so risqué that there was heated debate about whether or not to even include it in the biblical canon. Ultimately, the book was kept in the Bible and we have it to this day as a celebration of physical love and cosmic intimacy. Today, when DOMA is struck down and marriage is raised up, let's pause from the politics and levitate on our legacy of love.
As a Reform Rabbi, I am proud to officiate same-sex marriages. As a relatively new Reform Rabbi, no same-sex couple has yet asked me to officiate. To all those out there who are looking for a safe religious space to celebrate their simcha (joy), I say, bring it on. Today, on this day when we say 'down with DOMA' and 'up with love,' we embrace the Jewish tradition of honoring love and cheer for those couples whose freedom has just been furthered.