What Our Baby Taught Us About Love

In an emotional post, Rabbi Benji Levy asks "What can I learn from Lital in her moment of pain?"

The following was posted on Facebook by Rabbi Benji Levy, Dean of Jewish Life and Learning at Moriah College in Sydney, following the birth of his daughter, Lital.

She was born recently but has spent some time in intensive care.

Rabbi Benji decided to share his amazing thoughts about this challenging and emotional time in his life:

The last two weeks have been the most frightening of my life. Rather than moving from a cushioned baby swing, to her quaint basinet, she goes from a sterile hospital bed to mechanical scans. Rather than waking to her loving brother and sister caressing her face with kisses, she is woken by the cold sting of an injection and other crying babies.

Renana and I have debated whether or not to share something so personal this week. Given the outpouring of support for our daughter who has spent the last week in intensive care, we decided to share a thought with our community. At the outset, we want to thank so many of you from the bottom of our hearts, for the genuine prayer, care and support!

She will be fine – I have no doubt she will be fine. She will come out stronger. We will come out stronger. But what can we learn, what can we do – moving beyond the paralysis of why and acting – now what?

I have often thought about the utter vulnerability of a baby who essentially has zero power over her own destiny. She is born against her will, in a place she did not choose and at a time she could not control. She needs to be fed, changed, clothed and cared for because without this, she has no chance. But this is what makes the relationship so magically meaningful. Often, relationships are reduced to become a source of personal gratification. Someone to make me laugh, listen to me, give to me, provide for me… often we are so fixated on the question ‘what can I get,’ we fail to ask, ‘what can I give.’ The Hebrew word for love, ahava comes from the word hav – give. We only love what we give to. We can only truly love what we can truly invest ourselves in.

A cause. A character. A calling. We need all of these things and in our children we find them. Our children are the nexus that unites the power of our past with the legacy of our future. Through them, we understand what it truly means to touch eternity, to give without receiving, to start something with no end, for they will come to touch, give and start so much themselves.

So what can I learn from Lital in her moment of pain?

The child that didn’t cry out or need anything extra, suddenly needs all the extra energy we can muster up. She is still as calm as can be – but she calls on us not to be calm about our love for her. So what am I forced to do? Leehov – To love. She needs more, so I need to give more and therefore love more. That’s all we can do. Bechol levavcha, ubechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha. To love with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our might. And when we will have come through this ordeal, we will understand our capacity to love even more.

So what can you learn from Lital Gila bat Renana Yael?

We begin life young and helpless so that others can be helpful. We often end life old and powerless to empower others. Don’t wait to help – don’t wait to be helped. Don’t wait for an excuse to connect to your loved ones – make an excuse to love. And then love some more.

Others need so that we can provide and we need so that others can provide. Giving of yourself is the greatest gift you give to yourself and to others. This is what Lital has given us and I hope that in some way, through sharing this thought, I have given it to you…

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