The Torah writes in several places that G-d's relationship with us is comparable to that of a father with his son: “You are the sons of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 14: 1) This is written in the positive way of G-d's love for us, but also in the context of punishment: “And you shall know with your heart, that as father punishes his son, the Lord your God punishes you.” Let’s try to delve into this because it is essential for understanding reality.
In our relationship with our children, it is very easy to see two different behaviors. The first one is unconditional love. A new baby is born, and the excited parents feel immense and unconditional love toward that child. But with unconditional love alone it is impossible to educate the child. That's when the second behavior comes into play. When the child gets a bit older, the parents must set boundaries, reward and punishment. Reward for positive behaviors, and vice versa. This is necessary for the child’s education and development. Those children whose father 'never made them feel sad' will grow up to be spoiled or wild. Still, the parent must remember that these boundaries alone are not everything. The love for a child is essentially unconditional, and the boundaries we give that child according to his actions are nothing but an external indirect expression of our inner, unconditional love.
For example, a little boy is walking with his mother on the sidewalk, near a busy road. His mother will encourage him for his proper behavior. But if he manages to slip out of her grasp and run to the road, risking his life – his mother will immediately run to save him and admonish him for being wild. And if G-d forbid he was hurt, his worried parents would sit by his bed for days and nights, because they really love him without limit. This love was not renewed by the injury, it was always there, inside.
G-d also relates to us in two ways. The most familiar relationship is that of reward and punishment. But there is also a deeper relationship of boundless love. It is easy to forget, but we must remember it, because we don’t always feel this immense love in our everyday lives.
“You are the sons of the Lord your G-d” – Israel is called ‘sons’. You cannot divorce a son. Children bring satisfaction and glory to their parents as it says; “You are my servant, Israel that I am glorified from” (Isaiah 49,3). And indeed it is a foundation of belief that even in times of anger, even when G-d punishes us, His love for us is boundless. Therefore even during the destruction of the Temple which was the epitome of G-d’s hiding from us so to speak, still the golden cherubim on the ark of the covenant were seen hugging each other, as a sign of G-d’s love for us, because His love for us is permanent. This is something very fundamental that we must understand.
Why is there really no book of morals to emphasize this? The reason is simple. You don’t need a medical book to emphasize how important it is to breathe; it’s obvious. God's love for us is the very essence of life, and for generations this was obvious to everyone. The sages have established the blessing “You love us eternally” for this purpose. If someone does not have this main idea embedded in his heart, he must beware of reading books of character development which stress self- criticism and seeking out the shortcomings of our actions.
A Jew whose love of G-d is built into him can take that type of character development as a tool for correction and improvement, but if he doesn't have that foundation yet it can bring him to despair. Our main work is to strengthen our understanding of God's love for us. This is not just a lenient opinion as opposed to working on character development which requires being self-critical. This is our obligation. We are actually obligated to be much happier than we are and this is done through knowing that G-d loves us unconditionally.
We should understand how important we really are before God, how important each of our actions is, and how much our actions accomplish and build in the higher worlds. Our actions are so important that the Scriptures call us “partners” with G-d in the act of creation!