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relationship between fear of the LORD and mercy

Rabbi Ari ShvatKislev 7, 5773
128
Question
In what way is Mercy and Reverence connected. I am studying about the Merciful place of Reverence. Thank you, Craig Joy
Answer
Our monotheistic G-d is, by definition, perfect and doesn’t lack anything. Accordingly, the reverence which we should have for Him (“You shall fear/have awe for the Lord your G-d”, Dvarim 6, 13) is for our benefit, not for His “needs” (which he doesn’t have, because He lacks nothing!). We are clearly not talking about some egoistical being who craves honor, but a loving and merciful perfect G-d, who knows that through awe, we will admire and want to emulate His ways, to be that much more “merciful (!) gracious, tolerant, etc.” Shmot 34, 6). In addition, the best way we can slightly understand G-d and His traits is through the allegory of the father and child, as if it were. A good father may sometimes need to warn his child from doing wrong, and may even occasionally threaten to punish, in order to deter and convince the child to act nice and correctly (even though he clearly, mercifully, would prefer not to carry out the threat). That’s reverence. On the other hand, that same Father is good and merciful, and accordingly will be patient, often warning time and again, and tolerantly giving another chance (e.g. He tolerantly sent many prophets over several centuries (!) to warn us before sending us to exile); sometimes lessening the punishment from the original threat; willing to forgive as soon as there is a sincere request for pardon and resolve to truly improve and heed; and eventually, if need be, redeem Israel, out of love and mercy, even if we don’t repent or deserve it (e.g. Yechezkel 36). Any parent will attest that it is neither beneficial nor merciful towards your children to give them everything they want, or never to discipline, for we children, who have and want free will, lack self-discipline, and need "Parental" guidelines and guidance. With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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