aired February 9th, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/yK-2Mmg9-yk
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of February 10th, 2013.
Would you be my Valentine? Actually, you’re wise if you wouldn’t. St. Valentine, upon whom the Valentine’s Day holiday is kind of, sort of, not exactly really based, was a possibly apocryphal figure – well, all the saints were apocryphal to Yids like me. But if you’re a goy, and you believe in such stories, St. Valentine was one of two things: He was either a composite of a couple of different saints because he was so undistinguished as a saint himself. Or he was a good guy, a hard-working believer – who was clubbed to death and martyred on February 14th. Either way, who the hell wants to be him?
As for Valentine’s Day itself, very likely it was the Catholic Church’s response to a pagan celebration – the feast of Lupercal. Personally, I think Sustacal and Metrecal are more slimming. But the point is, the church couldn’t have some idolatrous holiday interfering with their practice, so like Halloween and Christmas, they morphed the comical into something canonical.
How did hearts and cupids and $180 Zales receipts creep into it? I have no idea, but I’m glad they did, because it makes Valentine’s Day a holiday everyone can celebrate. That human beings need an excuse to express affection is a sad thing. But if one day of the year, you can turn to your partner or spouse or well-paid escort and say, “I love you. Thank you for all you bring to my life. Please pick up some rye bread on the way home.” That’s a beautiful thing.
I realize that for those who are alone and lonely, Valentine’s can be a hollow holiday indeed. Seeing all those Hallmark cards in the Rite Aid, watching couples on the street holding hands, watching couples in porn holding glands, and finding 2-for-1 restaurant coupons in the Sunday paper, then wondering if it’s worth the embarrassment to go solo and put the second entrée in a doggie bag.
My single friends, I feel your pain. It’s just below the ribcage and spasms uncontrollably, but it’s okay, I’m on medication. The solution for everyone is to not look at Valentine’s Day as just for romantic couples. It’s for everyone who has loved you or you have loved in the course of your travels: family, neighbors, pets, inflatable dolls with lifelike genitalia. As Stephen Stills once put it, “Love the one you’re with.” Just make sure you have warm towels and a disinfectant.
And let us not forget that Valentine’s Day now has a whole other context thanks to “The Vagina Monologues.” Eve Ensler’s play about women and their nether parts became a global phenomenon. And now, February 14th is a day to protest violence and abuse against women, for women themselves to take pride in their achievements, and, of course, for us all to pay tribute to those hairy little pusseles.
So let this and every Valentine’s Day be not just about $70 restaurants and 7-11 roses, but mutual appreciation. A day of smiles, and hugs, and thank yous and vaginas. If you’re lucky, not necessarily in that order.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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