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GOOD MORNING! What is the greatest pleasure in your life? Love of your spouse? Love of your kids? How about Love of God? Could there be a greater pleasure than that? Would you believe that we are commanded to have this pleasure? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions" (Deut. 6:5). It must be possible. God doesn't command us to do the impossible!
Loving God is also one of 6 Constant Commandments - commandments that are upon us at all times and in all places!
(The other 5 Constant Mitzvot are:
- Know there is a God.
- Don't believe in any other god.
- Know that He is One.
- Fear God.
- Don't follow after your desires.
For more information, go to: aish.com and search on "6 Constant Mitzvot").
First, the definitions: What is "Love" - the pleasure one has in focusing on the good in something or someone. As Maimonides writes:
"A person can only love according to the degree he knows the object of his love. If he knows a little, he can love a little. And if he knows a lot, he can love a lot." (Laws of Teshuva 10:6)
A parent may have a drug using, lazy dropout and still love him. If you ask the parent why s/he loves him, s/he will tell you, "Because he has a good heart, he's a good kid." What about the drugs, laziness, dropping out of school? The parent replies, "He was in with a bad group, I should have helped him more" - or some other reason to not focus on the negative. One can only love by focusing on the positive.
What is "God" - the Creator, Sustainer and Supervisor. The One who made the whole universe and everything in it, keeps it going and Who has a relationship with everyone and everything in it.
So, what is Love of God? It is the pleasure in focusing on the good that He has given us in our lives and in the world.
We all have difficulties and challenges in our lives. As hard as they may be, a person who believes in a loving God understands that they are meaningful and beneficial. Though the challenge may seem insurmountable, God never gives us a challenge that we cannot handle.
For example, pain is something we all wish to avoid. However, the pain reflex helps preserve us from great harm. Imagine if you didn't feel pain and only found that your hand was resting on a hot burner when someone pointed out the flames. Pain can also be a wake up call to look into our deeds so that we will correct them as well as serve as an atonement for past mistakes.
Difficulties in life should be looked upon as meaningful. We should ask ourselves "Why me?" - but not with an accusatory tone. The Torah teaches that the Almighty loves each and every creation and has an individual relationship with each of us.
Perhaps the most important lesson we owe our children is to teach them that the Almighty loves them - just as they need to know that their parents love them. I often hug my children and ask, "Who loves you?" They learn early to respond, "Mommy and Daddy." And then I ask and "Who loves you most of all?" And they learn early to respond "Hashem" (a commonly used Hebrew name for God). And sometimes they just respond, "Mommy, Daddy and Hashem loves me the most."
There are two ways to love God. The first is to look at His Creation - the beauty and the intricacy of everything from the micro to the macro. Maimonides writes:
"What is the path to love (and awe) of God? When one ponders God's great and wonderful acts of creation, and sees in them a genius that has no comparison, then automatically a person will love, praise, glorify - and deeply desire to know the greatness of God." (Foundations of Torah 2:2)
Second, read His words - The Torah. When people say they love an author, it is because they read his book and were moved by the book. To know God and to Love God, it certainly helps to read His Book. Torah study is the way to discover the path of meaning. The Torah is called Torat Chaim - literally the book of "Instructions for Living" - is God's communication to the world. It is the ultimate repository for wisdom on how to succeed at marriage, parenting, community building, and fixing the world.
The Mitzvah to love God is to be constantly preoccupied with the pursuit of closeness to God. God is always there. It is up to us to choose to deepen the relationship. For as the Kotzker Rebbe once said: "Where is God? Wherever you let Him in."
Torah Portion of the Week
Pekudei includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Mishkan (the portable sanctuary) and details of the construction of the clothing of the Cohanim. The Tabernacle (another translation of Mishkan) is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction, the Almighty commands to erect the Tabernacle, it's erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper place.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After being told to anoint his brother Aharon (Aaron), Moshe was told in reference to Aharon's sons:
"And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father." (Exodus 40:15)
Why did the Almighty give Moses this special instruction?
Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen explains in his commentary Meshech Chochmah that when Moses was told to anoint his brother Aaron, he was able to do it with a complete heart. Moses, the younger brother, was the leader of the Israelites and was happy that his brother was the High Priest. However, in reference to Aaron's sons, the situation was different. Moses' own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So, when it came to anointing Aaron's sons, Moses might have felt envy. Therefore, the Almighty told Moses to anoint Aaron's sons with the same wholeheartedness and joy with which he anointed their father.
Our lesson: If even a person as great as Moses needs to internalize attitudes to avoid envy, all the more so do we! Also, it IS possible to feel joy and enthusiasm for another person's success even if he has something that you do not.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 7:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:52 Hong Kong 6:11 Honolulu 6:18
J'Burg 6:15 London 5:31 Los Angeles 5:35
Melbourne 7:30 Miami 6:07 Moscow 5:58
New York 5:35 Singapore 7:02
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Getting something done
is an accomplishment;
getting something done right
is an achievement.
In honor of the