by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Today is the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av. The Talmud teaches that many great things happened to the Jewish nation on this day (see Talmud, Taanit 30b). In ancient times, this day (together with Yom Kippur) was celebrated in a unique way. Young single men and women in need of a match would go out into the vineyards and find their soul mate.
To quote the words of the Talmud:
There were no greater festivals for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur. On these days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out... and dance in the vineyards. And what would they say? "Young man, raise your eyes and see which you select for yourself...."
To fully explain the purpose and deeper significance of this practice is beyond the scope of this article. However, I just want to comment on one seemingly strange phrase.
"Young man, raise your eyes and see which you select for yourself...."
In these words lies the secret to successful relationships. To maintain and nurture successful relationships we have to "raise our eyes". It is insufficient to embark on a relationship based on what meets the eye superficially. We need to look beyond and deeper than the external. By raising our eyes we can explore past the obvious and observe, connect to, commit to and appreciate the depth and inner qualities of the other person.
Superficial attraction is short lived even when it appears to be intense or romantic. When relationships live in the world of the superficial, the initial passion and excitement quickly fizzles. We can only sustain a meaningful relationship by connecting on a deeper and more meaningful level.
Relationships may begin with obvious attraction. But only with the commitment to "raise our eyes," will they last.