Tantra of Love

     For the Hebrew mystics, the word for love itself expresses this notion of giving which they so cherished.  Love, in the original Hebrew--ahava--is sourced in the word hav.  Hav has three meanings.  Love and Giving are the first two.  There is no love without giving.  The third meaning is the glow of passion.  Thus the word ‘lahav’ comes from this root.   Lahav is Hebrew for ‘torch’, as in the familiar phrase of “carrying a torch” for someone.  “Carrying a torch” is the convergence of all three meanings of Hav--it is being in love with, invested in and passionately entangled with another.

     Hav in this sense is not at all dissimilar to how the Greeks sometimes talked about Eros.  This is a wonderful thing to notice.  Remember that for the Greeks, Eros was passion while Agape and Philia – two completely different words – represented giving, care and concern.  For the Hebrew mystic, that chasm of separate words dividing eros from agape and philia, is bridged by one wonderful term, hav.  Like a single wagon carrying three passengers, hav holds together love, passion and giving--eros, agape and philia.

     The Hebrew mystics knew that language is a portal to powerful and profound understanding.  They go on to point out that the Hebrew words chovah and chibbah share a common root source for.  Chovah is “commitment expressed through giving,” and Chibbah connotes love and affection.  Chovah says that, if you are a lover, you must expend effort for the growth of your beloved.  Through the giving implicit in love, you expand the limits of your narrow self and become an erotic lover. 

The Erotic and the Holy, Page 396