Ask The Rabbi

Thou Shalt Love

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Topic: God, Loving

Faron Lebson from Randallstown, MD wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

In the Torah, why does G-d command us to love Him? I thought that love was a natural response that could not be demanded of someone?

Dear Faron Lebson,

When we speak of loving G-d, we are not referring to "falling in love" with G-d, as though love, like a pit, were something that you "fall into." Genuine, lasting love comes from respect and appreciation.

That is why, on the whole, we understand this commandment to mean that we should act as though we love G-d. We should keep the commandments faithfully, and make personal sacrifices for G-d just as we would towards a child, spouse or parent whom we love.

On a deeper level, though, the Torah is revealing a secret here: Planted within each person is a hidden capacity to truly love G-d. Acting with love towards G-d cultivates this dormant emotion until it grows and shines forth.

The study of the Torah, with its breathtaking depth and beauty, is a prime way to cultivate this love.

Another way to awaken our love for G-d is to study science and nature. Consider, for example, the fact that your stomach is full of acids that are strong enough to dissolve ox leather, yet these very same acids don't melt through the soft flesh of your stomach! This is because the Creator provided you with a specially formulated mucous lining to protect against this. Becoming aware of countless such kindnesses will certainly nurture our innate feelings of thankfulness and love towards G-d.

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