Eikev

Eikev - What is the Way to Love G-d?

Our ability to love G-d is generated by our fear of G-d, which assists us in serving G-d even when our feeling of love is faint.

Eikev - What is the Way to Love G-d?
The Torah reading of Ekev includes the command to fear the L-rd: "You shall fear the Lord your G-d, worship Him, cleave to Him and swear by His Name." (Deut. 10:20) Many ask why we are commanded to fear G-d, when we were already commanded to love him in the verse "You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and all your soul and all your possessions" (Deut 6:5). Does one who already loves G-d also need to fear Him?
There are two parts to fear of G-d, both of which are needed parallel to love of G-d: There is fear of G-d’s punishment and there is awe of G-d’s majesty.

A person needs fear of punishment when his love is weak and insufficient to bolster him against the pull of his evil inclination. It helps him to remember the great suffering that might be his lot, G-d forbid, in This World and the Hereafter, if he doesn’t withstand temptation and chooses momentary pleasure. In the words of our Sages in Mishna Avot, a person has to calculate "the advantage of a sin (the sparse enjoyment he gets out of it) against its loss (the great sufferings he will endure because of it). It’s like a person who wants a delicious meal, but not if it costs him a year’s salary.

There is another part to fear of G-d, and that is awe of G-d’s majesty. This means revering G-d because of His greatness and exaltation. This awe paves the way for a person to love G-d.

By his nature, man is enveloped by a corporal body which distracts him from his inner spiritual self, and obstructs his yearning and longing for G-d, a characteristic of love of G-d. But awe of G-d’s majesty uplifts a person from the limitations of his materiality, and allows him to open up to a more spiritual world where he can attain the love of G-d.

This is what the Ramchal teaches us in his book The Way of G-d (Part 4, Section 3):
"We have already explained in Section 1, Chapter 4 the matter of love and fear which are the ways mankind has to draw close to his Creator. We are speaking about true love and fear, which means loving Him without motivation of reward and being in awe of Him without being motivated by fear of punishment. This kind of fear cleanses a person of his corporality and materialism and enables the Divine Presence to dwell upon him. The more we are in awe of Him, the greater our purification and sensing of the Divine Presence.

“One who has achieved this sense of awe continually, will have the Divine Presence rest upon himself continually. The one who typified this to perfection was our teacher Moses, about whom it was said, ‘Fear of G-d was a small matter for Moses’ because he always sensed His presence.
“It is very difficult for all other people to achieve so exalted a level of awe of G-d, but to the degree that they attain it, to that degree they will have achieved purity and holiness as we will explain, particularly when they are occupied with fulfilling commandments or studying Torah…

"Nothing connects a person to his Creator more than loving Him. It endows our soul with many crowns and more importantly, it brings happiness to our hearts and makes our souls excited before its Creator. It brings a person to be willing to give over his life for the sanctification of G-d’s Name, and do everything to give Him pleasure. When sure and palpable faith in His Presence and complete trust in Him are added to this, all these make a person cleave to his blessed Creator and fill him with holiness and enlightenment.”

This means that when a person acquires awe of G-d, it will weaken his connection to his corporal aspect and allow him to achieve love of G-d so he can cleave to his Creator. That is why every Jew must attain both qualities of fear and love of G-d.
May we merit G-d's help to serve Him with a perfect heart, with awe and love together.

Shabbat Shalom!
 
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