Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Yaakov Ben Behora

37. Piety and the Love of God

One who truly loves the Almighty knows how to accept hardships lovingly, with an understanding that everything God does is for the best, even hardships. Not only are they for his own good, they constitute a reason for loving the Almighty even more.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Love of God consists in a person's desiring and actually lusting for the nearness of the Blessed One and pursuing His holiness as one pursues anything which he strongly desires. This love extends so far as to cause the mere mentioning of the Blessed One's Name, the reciting of His praises and the occupation with the words of His Torah and with the nature of the Blessed One's Divinity to be a delight and a pleasure.

One who loves God in such a manner can be likened to one who very strongly loves the wife of his youth, so much so that he finds joy and pleasure in merely speaking of her, or one who greatly loves his son. As Scripture states (Jeremiah 31:19), "For when I speak of him I will strongly remember him."

There is no question that one who truly loves his Creator will not leave off serving Him for any reason whatsoever. He will need no motivation or inducement to serve Him. His heart will elevate and motivate him to this end.

King David, may Peace be upon him, possessed this desirable trait, as he says (Psalms 42:2), "As a hart yearns for the waterbrooks, so does my soul yearn for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God - when shall I come.. ?" And (ibid. 84:3), "My soul longs and goes out for the courts of God..." and (ibid. 63:2), "My soul thirsts for You; my flesh pines for You..."

Like one who is in the desert and longs for water, so would King David thirst for God, His Torah and His commandments, as it is written (ibid. 119:47), "I will take delight in Your commandments, which I love," and (ibid. 24), "Your commandments, also, are my delight . . . " Even when lying on his bed he would cling to God (Psalms 63:7): "In truth, I will remember You upon my couch; in the night watches I will think of You."

The true test of this love, of how deep and strong it is, comes in times of difficulty, times of distress and misfortune. Regarding this the sages say, " 'And you should love the Lord, Your God with all your heart and with all your soul' (Deuteronomy 6:5) - even if He takes your soul, 'and with all your might'- with all of your possessions."

One who truly loves the Almighty knows how to accept hardships lovingly, with an understanding that everything which God does is for the best, even the hardships. This may be likened to a surgeon who cuts an infected limb in order that the rest of the body become healthy and not perish. And though this act is seemingly cruel, it is in fact an act of mercy. Not only does the sick person not become angered by the physician who pains him, he actually thanks him, and blesses him, and loves him all the more for having healed him.

This is the way a person must relate to all of the hardships which befall him in life. He must understand that they are for his own good, and they themselves constitute a reason for loving the Almighty even more.

Someone on an even higher spiritual level needs no explanation as to why such hardship come, for he does not think of himself at all, and he needs no explanation regarding what befalls him or why. He is occupied solely with honoring God. His one desire is to bring pleasure to God and to magnify His sacred name.

When such a person encounters obstructions in his service of God and must struggle in order to overcome them, he becomes filled with even more energy and joy to demonstrate the potency of his love, like a choice officer who always seeks out the greatest challenge in order to reach his full military potential. In the same manner, those who love God with their entire heart want to give expression to their deep love by overcoming great trials.
Some of the translated material in the above article was taken from, or based upon, Feldheim's "The Path of the Just."

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