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The 14 Most Romantic Lines in Jewish Literature

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and ignoring the holiday’s relatively morbid roots in favor of its relatively charming modern incarnation, what better way to celebrate than with the romantic musings of some beloved Jewish writers? Should you be in need of lofty-sounding fodder with which to celebrate your loved ones — or woo those you’d like to love — look no further than the list below. Happy romancing!

1) “They lay there for a few seconds, in the dark, in the future, listening to the fabulous clockwork of their hearts and lungs, and loving each other.”
—Michael Chabon, “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay”

2) “I had jumped off the edge, and then, at the very last moment, something reached out and caught me in midair. That something is what I define as love. It is the one thing that can stop a man from falling, powerful enough to negate the laws of gravity.”
—Paul Auster, “Moon Palace”

3)“Clara, I feel so full/of work, the life I see ahead, and love/for you, who of all people/ however badly I say this will hear all I say and cannot say.”
—Adrienne Rich, “Paula Becker to Clara Westhoff”

4) “‘It is you who are wrong,’ she replied. ‘I have been listening to that particular accusation for most of my life. I am not a romantic. I am a domestic animal. I do not sigh and yearn for extravagant displays of passion, for the grand affair, the world well lost for love. I know all that, and know that it leaves you lonely. No, what I crave is the simplicity of routine. An evening walk, arm in arm, in fine weather. A game of cards. Time for idle talk. Preparing a meal together.’”

—Anita Brookner, “Hotel du Lac”

5) “He could say nothing. He had no right to be there, he had already been profoundly changed, he was no good at small talk, she was half naked, it was dawn and he loved her.”

—Mark Helprin, “Winter’s Tale”

6) “When I am dead, even then,/I will still love you, I will wait in these poems,/When I am dead, even then/I am still listening to you.”
—Muriel Rukeyser, “Then”

7) “I shall have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love, love, love, above all. Love as there has never been in a play. Unbiddable, ungovernable, like a riot in the heart and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture.”

—Tom Stoppard with Marc Norman, “Shakespeare in Love”

8) “I was practically blind./You, appearing, then hiding,/gave me my sight and heightened it. Thus some leave behind/a trace. Thus they make worlds./Thus, having done so, at random/wastefully they abandon/ their work to its whirls.”
—Joseph Brodsky, “Seven Strophes”

9) “I love you also means, I love you more than anyone loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, “Everything is Illuminated”

10) “She was gone, and all that was left was the space you’d grown around her, like a tree that grows around a fence. For a long time, it remained hollow. Years, maybe. And when at last it was filled again, you knew that the new love you felt for a woman would have been impossible without Alma. If it weren’t for her, there would never have been an empty space, or the need to fill it.
—Nicole Krauss, “The History of Love”

11) “The only obsession everyone wants: ‘love.’ People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you’re whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You’re whole, and then you’re cracked open.”
—Philip Roth, “The Dying Animal”

12) “A person whom one has loved seems altogether too significant a thing to simply vanish altogether from the world. A person whom one loves is a world, just as one knows oneself to be a world.”
—Rebecca Goldstein, “Betraying Spinoza”

13) “The love I felt for her on that train ride had a capital and provinces, parishes and a Vatican, an orange planet and many sullen moons – it was systemic and it was complete.” —Gary Shteyngart, “Super Sad True Love Story”

14) “You don’t know the meaning of true love if you think it can be deliberately selected. You just love, that’s all. A natural force, irresistible.”
—Saul Bellow, “Henderson the Rain King”

Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture intern.

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