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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach



We can all understand that love is the foundation for a healthy relationship. For a relationship with your partner, with your children, with your friends, and thus also for your relationship with G-d.

There are many things you can do for G-d based on your logic. His laws are logical and you know that they therefore bring you positive benefits. For example, if no one would steal, it is good for all of society. If less is stolen from supermarkets, for example, these costs need not be factored into prices.

You can also omit actions or do actions correctly because you are afraid of being punished if you do not act correctly. But just as in a relationship with people, if you act from the idea that you will be rewarded or punished, the foundation is shaky. When the reward is gone it is easy to just stop doing the actions. If the punishment lapses, then why act correctly.

If the foundation is love, then no reward or punishment is needed to act rightly. You do it because you know the other person enjoys it. You do that because you want that other person to be right. Problem is you can’t force an emotion, you can’t decide to love someone. It’s either there or it’s not.

And yet the Tenach says in Deuteronomy 11:22

כִּי֩ אִם־שָׁמֹ֨ר תִּשְׁמְר֜וּן אֶת־כׇּל־הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֗את אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם לַעֲשֹׂתָ֑הּ לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־ה’ אֱ-לֹקיכֶ֛ם לָלֶ֥כֶת בְּכׇל־דְּרָכָ֖יו וּלְדׇבְקָה־בֽוֹ׃

If, then, you faithfully keep all this Instruction that I command you, loving your G-d Hashem, walking in all G-d’s ways, and holding fast to [G-d],

In the previous blog of the Fundamentals, we talked about “fear of G-d.” The Orach Chaim points out that loving G-d is not possible without “fear/awe of G-d.” Indeed, first fear arises and then love arises.Most people are afraid of something. One for a dog, another for a scary bacteria, etc. If creatures can already scare us, surely we should feel the same when we imagine ourselves standing before the Creator. But fear is also awe. The feeling you have when you stand atop a mountain and watch the sun set behind a snow-covered peak. From this fear/awe arises love.

However, we are not confronted all day long with things that evoke fear of awe in us, are we?

Love in the above verse is depicted as something to do, not something to feel. How do you “do love”?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman describes “do love” as:

When one contemplates ideas that arouse a love for G‑d, in a general way, how G‑d is our very lifeforce . . . Or in a more specific way by contemplating the greatness of G‑d . . . and the great love He has for us . . . this will arouse a reciprocal love for G‑d.

What we think about, and think we do all day, is a conscious choice we can make with our free will. So we can choose to think about G-d’s Greatness. We can choose a moment in the day to do so, but you can also think about G-d’s Greatness as you cycle to work, as you enjoy your sandwich while eating. Every spare minute we can fill our minds with thoughts about G-d.

Maimonides  In the second chapter of Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah describes this process of “do-love” as follows:

What is the path [to attain] love and fear of Him? When a person contemplates His wondrous and great deeds and creations and appreciates His infinite wisdom that surpasses all comparison, he will immediately love, praise and glorify [Him], yearning with tremendous desire to know [G‑d’s] great name, as David stated: “My soul thirsts for the L‑rd, for the living G‑d” [Psalms 42:3]

This constant proximity of thoughts about G-d will increase our awareness about Him, which will also make us experience Him more and more in our lives. Which make that our love for Him will grow.

“Do-Love” will bring you to a relationship with Hashem that you want to emulate His mitzvot, not because you fear punishment, not because you think you will get a reward, but for no reason. Only because He is Hashem.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner 4e edition p. 33
Gateway to Unity and Faith by Rabbi Shneur Zalman
How Can We Be Required to Love G-d?

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