Headlines »

May 18, 2024 – 10:56 pm | Comments Off on Are We Equal?9 views

Are we truly equal? We all know someone smarter, wiser, more capable, industrious, resourceful, or creative, than us. We also know people less wise, capable, industrious, resourceful, or creative than us. So, are we truly equal?
The answer is yes, but not because we are all equally capable. Our skill sets …

Read the full story »
Parsha Insights

Where Biblical law and Torah tale is brought vividly to life


The Jewish perspective on topical and controversial subjects

Life Cycle

Probing for meaning in our journey and its milestones.

Yearly Cycle

Discover depth and mystique in the annual Jewish festivals

Rabbi’s Desk

Seeking life’s lessons in news items and current events

Home » Marriage, Va'etchanan

Vaetchanan: True Love

Submitted by on August 11, 2019 – 11:11 pmNo Comment | 1,923 views

G-d wants our love. How much love does He want? Whatever we are prepared to give, and then some.

And you shall love G-d with all your heart, with all your life, and with all your might.”[1] This verse demands that we give G-d three kinds of love. The love of our heart, the love of our life, and the love of our might.

The love of the heart is the easiest to give. In today’s day, we give up the love of our heart rather freely. If your friend brings home a new blouse and asks if you like it, you are likely to reply, I love it. Are you exaggerating? Perhaps, a little. You don’t mean that you have a loving relationship with the blouse. You mean that you see beauty in the blouse. You have fallen in love with its aesthetics. You are drawn to it. When you behold it, you feel a flutter in your heart.

If you can find enough beauty in a blouse to set your heart aflutter, you can surely find that kind of beauty in G-d. All you need to do is look around you and behold the beauty of the universe that G-d created. See the vast oceans, the rolling hills, the flowing rivers, and the majestic mountains. Behold the graceful flight of the birds, the awesome roar of the lion, the miraculous growth of the trees, and the meticulous complexity of our echo system.

G-d created every one of these and placed you at the center so you could benefit from them. He preserves the delicate balance of the vast planet to provide you with a stable environment. He placed earth at a perfect distance from the sun so that it would warm you, but not burn you. He created the chemistry of water and ensured that the world has just enough H2O to sustain us, but not enough to flood us.

If His creation is so magnificent, how magnificent is He? Yet, despite His vast, eternal magnificence, when I open my mouth to speak to Him, and my heart to love Him, He dismisses everyone from His mind and focuses exclusively on me. He listens with an attentive ear and opens His heart to love me back. It isn’t difficult to fall in love with a G-d like that. It isn’t so difficult to give Him the love of our heart.

Your Life
Not everyone who touches our heart becomes our life. In the course of a lifetime, we might give our hearts to several people. We love our parents, our spouse, our children, our friends, but we only give our life to one person. Only one person becomes the love of our life.

The love of our heart is one thing. The love of our lives is something entirely different. This is not just someone we want in our lives. This is someone to whom we want to give our life. We want to share our lives, our most intimate facets, with this person.

We can give G-d the love of our hearts relatively easily. But it is much harder to give Him the love of our lives.  That is why this love is stated second in the verse. As the verse progresses, the level of challenge increases. Can we live with G-d each minute of the day? Can we give Him our lives?

To live with G-d each moment means that He is never far from our thoughts. No matter what we are doing, eating, sleeping, bathing, working, dressing, exercising, lounging, or driving, we are thinking about G-d. Our minds focus on a Torah thought, our lips murmur Torah words from memory, and our hearts yearn for a chance to do a mitzvah or study Torah. Our fixation with G-d doesn’t weaken when we engage in worldly endeavors, but we can’t wait to return. This is akin to a young couple in love. Even when they step away from each other, they don’t stop thinking about each other, but just the same, they can’t wait to get back together. That is the love of a life. That means giving your life to the one you love.

Your Might
If we have given G-d our hearts, and our lives, what is left to give? What more can He ask of us?

He asks for more than our lives, whatever that might be. Whatever is more important to you than your life, that is what G-d wants. The question is, what is more important than your life and can you give it?

Some people love their money more than their lives. The proof is that they spend their entire lives working to earn money. Other people love leisure more than money. The proof is that they take the money into which they invested their energy and toil, and pour it into instruments of leisure such as a Bentley, a yacht, a vacation home, etc. Some people love their family even more than their leisure. The proof is that they take their Bentley, or yacht, or vacation home and give it away to their families. They let the kids drive their Bentley and let their grandchildren make a mess of their lovely homes.

Some people would never let their children drive their Bentley or motor their yachts. For such people, the Bentley is more important than their children. They would give their lives for the Bentley, but they wouldn’t give the Bentley to their children. For these people, the Bentley is more important than their lives. For others, their children are more important than their lives. Yet for others, their stock portfolio is more important than their lives.

The point is that everyone has something that they cherish more than life. They would give away everything to protect that thing. When G-d says, love me with all your might, He is asking you for that thing. Can you give that to G-d?

One example of giving G-d something more important than life is to take the money you worked hard to earn and give it to charity. You invested your vitality, creativity, yearning, and sweat into this money. When you give it to charity, you are in effect giving G-d all that and more. You are giving G-d all the vitality, and stress, and yearning, and excitement, that you invested in that money.  You are giving G-d your very lifeblood. That is why some of our sages translated the words with all your might as with all your funds.

Those who love their Bentley more than life can show their love for G-d by allowing others to borrow the Bentley to do a mitzvah. For example, they can loan it to a neighbor who needs to take his mother to the doctor, or who needs to run to the synagogue for prayer services.

Those who love their children more than their life can show their love for G-d by raising their children to dedicate their lives to G-d. It feels good to know that we taught our children a profession or expertise that will earn them a comfortable lifestyle, but it feels even better to know that we raised them to be loyal servants of G-d. To teach them the value of taking time off from their busy day to study Torah and to teach them to never allow their study sessions to be interrupted (barring emergencies) no matter how urgent the matter might be.

We can only do this if we love G-d more than life itself. This is the pinnacle of love. Are we up to this, are we capable of loving G-d that much? If we weren’t capable, G-d wouldn’t ask. Never believe that G-d was talking to somebody else when He wrote this verse. He was talking to you, and to me, and to every single person on the face of this earth. If he asked for it, it means that we are capable.

And if we can, we must.

[1] Deuteronomy 6:5.

Tags: ,