Today’s learning is dedicated to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. The UK is enjoying a special extended holiday weekend to celebrate the historic milestone of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service, making her the longest-reigning incumbent monarch and the longest-reigning female monarch in recorded history.

It’s fascinating that when we acknowledge the achievements of people, we don’t only take note of a once-off unique successful feat. Still, there’s a special accolade we give for being the longest standing at something.

This means that even if someone wasn’t particularly good at something if they did it for a very long time they are seen as great.

Why is that? And what does that tell us about relationships?

So this weekend is also Shavuos, which marks the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai 3334 years ago, and there’s a reference to it in the name of this week’s Parsha.

The Rabbis say that the Torah was given in three things: Fire, water and =Bamidbar – in the wilderness. While there is certainly a simple physical explanation for each of them, the Chassidic masters explain a deeper spiritual meaning:

  • Fire, which always rises up, signifies the desire to strive and reach great spiritual heights
  • Water, which spreads and always takes on the contours of the vessel which contains it, embodies the yearning for connection, love and affection
  • And because the Wilderness is by definition empty and ownerless, it illustrates the concept of humility, receptiveness and openness.

But here’s the thing, while all these attributes are great and essential to learning Torah and attaining wisdom – they only ever work if they are done consistently and constantly.

We know that a pot won’t ever come to boil unless it is on a constant flame for a long time. Even a huge flame which only ignites intermittently won’t succeed in boiling the pot.

So too a tiny drop of water has immense potential to shape even the hardest rock when it falls constantly on the same spot for a long time; something a single massive downpour of water can’t do.

The vast openness of the wilderness is only real and felt if it’s really ownerless and empty all the time. One small petrol station breaks the silence and ruins the effect.

At the end of a person’s life, they are remembered for what they always did, or perhaps even what they never did. Those who eulogise them speak of what they stood for, not what they once did.

Relationships are built on the same paradigm. They are also defined more by what we do most or do least, then by what we sometimes manage to do.

And this is also where relationships fall. I see this breakdown so often, when one of the partners is calling out for connection, almost begging for attention, but it falls on deaf ears. And then when it is finally heard, the response is to do something big and drastic, like go away for a weekend to Paris.

But here’s the thing – a once-off trip to Paris won’t work. To solve the problem you need consistency and constant action that stands.

So you are better off taking your spouse to the pantry for a hug and a moment of connection, every single day, than a once-off trip to Paris.