After a beautiful Shabbat lunch with good friends, as my son and I were walking home (the rest of the crew headed home a bit earlier), we stumbled upon a new synagogue being built nearby.  The sign in front of the construction site proudly read “Nitzotz Hakedusha” – the Spark of Holiness. The name of this shul sparked contemplation on the significance of small, unnoticed sparks in life and of course, in relationships. In Esther Perel’s book, “Mating in Captivity,” the author emphasizes the importance of nurturing desire and passion in a relationship, akin to tending to a small spark and allowing it to grow into a passionate flame. As we approach Tu B’Av, a time of celebrating love, reflecting on love lost, and seeking intimacy, let us embark on a treasure hunt to discover the sparks that can reignite desire and passion in our relationships.

The Essence of Sparks:

Sparks, or nitzotzim, hold boundless potential while often going unnoticed, unless someone takes a moment to tune in to their surroundings and notice them. Like a fire needing air to grow, our relationships require attention and care to flourish. Passion and love to not grow out of nothingness. I am sorry to tell all the consumers out there that love and passion are not made of big teddy bears, roses, and a nice bottle of chardonnay with chocolates.  They are born out of effort, out of paying attention to the small details in life, appreciating both giving and receiving acts of love from the people we cherish.

Often, it is the seemingly insignificant gestures that nourish the flames of intimacy.

Like small fires that may fade away without attention, the nitzotzim in our relationships require love and attention to grow into different aspects or types of intimacy. As Tu B’Av approaches, we have a wonderful opportunity to explore these sparks and how they can ignite desire between partners. Intimacy shows up in many forms. According to my professor, Dr. Marilyn Volker, there are at least 8 types of intimacy including sexual, affectionate, physical, social, aesthetic, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy. Each type of intimacy can spark another, leading to a deeper connection between partners.

In the context of sexual health in Judaism, intimacy takes on a profound significance. It is essential to acknowledge and celebrate the different forms of intimacy that exist within relationships. From spiritual connections through shared religious experiences to emotional bonding and sharing one’s feelings, these various sparks contribute to the overall flame of love and passion.

The magic of sparks lies in their omnipresence in various forms of intimacy. By being aware of these nitzotzim and making the effort to fan them into flames, we can reignite the passion and desire in our relationships. While love may come naturally in the early stages of a relationship, nurturing it over time requires mindfulness and dedication. As we celebrate Tu B’Av, let’s slow down, appreciate the sparks that once ignited our passion, and find ways to reignite that flame.

Wishing you all a joyful and intimate Tu B’Av.