On Tuesday evening, July 9, Mrs. Adina Stilerman, world renowned speaker, spoke on behalf of Emet Outreach to an overflow crowd of community women at the Bukharian Jewish Congregation of Jamaica Estates.
Mrs. Stilerman began her shiur on the Jewish “Five Love Languages,” commenting that “We are drawn in by romance. We are taken captive by love stories.” She posed the question, “Why are we hyper-focused on this subject?” Romance is the bestselling genre in the secular world. She spoke about romance as an addiction. Addiction is something you want badly, and you can’t have enough of it. We can’t get enough of it. She drew the analogy to giving a child a piece of bread with honey. If the child eats only the honey the child will still be hungry, and he will keep asking for more and more honey. This is analogous to the fact that we have divorced the nutritional element of love in our relationship and we are just craving the romance. Just the romance part, without the love of the relationship, is not going to satisfy people, and they’ll keep wanting more and more romance.
“Does romance last forever?” This was a question she wanted the audience to think about. Then she commented that we can rewrite the story of our personal love lives.
Next, she taught that the Torah teaches us how to possess love forever. A person has three components: the head (which represents the intellectual), the heart (which symbolizes the emotional), and the rest of the body (which is physical). The top governs the rest of the body. In love, we need to connect intellectually. A couple needs to have a shared mission in life to continue the Jewish legacy. This shared mission feeds the emotional and physical part of your relationship.
She then spoke about the story of Adam and Chavah, who were created as one creature, back to back. When they were separated, they turned around to face each other. Hashem says to leave your father and mother and cling to your wife and become one flesh. Mrs. Stilerman explained that feeling as one is the greatest obstacles. She stated that Adam and Chavah had no physical parents. Parents give us human life and the two main components, your nature and your nurture, as well as how you receive love. She taught that Adam and Chavah had to leave their preconceived notions of what love is in order to have romantic love in marriage.
The author, Gary Chapman, observed that one spouse was trying to show love and the other was not receiving it. This was the inspiration for his book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. He teaches in his book that everyone has a primary love language and a secondary one. Mrs. Stilerman shared that the love language one speaks is not easily understood by his or her spouse.
She asked each member of the audience to determine which one is his or her own personal love language, and which one belongs to their spouse. She then listed the five love languages: 1. Words of Affirmation, 2. Acts of Service, 3. Quality Time, 4. Gifts, and 5. Physical Touch. An obstacle to keeping romance in our marriage is not knowing our spouse’s love language. We refuse to leave our own nature and nurture way. So, one major blockage is we have to leave our previous self behind, in order to speak our spouse’s love language. The second blockage is that real chesed is when it’s not easy to give. “Chesed begins when it’s the last thing you want to do.”
She shared how the Torah begins and ends with an act of chesed. Hashem clothed Adam and Chavah after the sin, and that was the first act of chesed. This is because Hashem gave them the clothing after they had sinned. Even though they sinned, Hashem performed this act of chesed for them.
She shared that one of her friends, who is a divorce attorney, pointed out that couples going through divorce blame each other as if their love is conditional. Rav Yitzchak Berkowitz taught that the foundation of marriage for a woman is the mitzvah of loving your fellow as yourself. You should love your husband the way you want to be loved.
She taught that the physical bond in marriage unites. She advised us to step into our husband’s shoes and tap into how he feels at this moment. Figure out the hurdles and then start practicing doing the right love language more.
She explained an idea called lightning vision. She shared that Hashem gives a high in the beginning of a relationship and then it goes away. The gift of lightning is that you see the whole forest for a split second and then everything is back in the dark. So, the first stage of inspiration in marriage is a gift from Hashem. Then Hashem takes it away and says you’ll earn romance on your own and, at the end, you and your spouse will be one. She taught that “If you realize there’s a process to get there, the struggle allows you to get there.” She emphasized that we have to remember our mission and that we are building something together.
She concluded with a brachah that everyone in the audience should inspire others and their children to create marriages that bring Hashem’s presence into the world.
Everyone left inspired and contemplating which language was her primary love language and her secondary one.
By Susie Garber