Even Closer to HASHEM
By Rabbi Label Lam
You shall follow after HASHEM your G-d, and Him you shall fear and His
Mitzvos you shall keep and to His voice you should hearken and Him shall
you serve and to Him you should cleave. (Devarim 13:5)
To Him shall you cleave: Cleave to His ways; Acts of Kindliness, burying
the dead, visiting the sick, like The Holy One Blessed Be He does. (Rashi)
Rashi is troubled by the problem of how we are to attach ourselves to
HASHEM. Obviously it is not a physical attachment but a matter of
emulation. Rashi offers a short list and a general heading that we should
do as HASHEM does. Therefore we can look for other areas that are listed
as doings and characteristics of The Almighty.
In the Siddur-Prayer book we find multiple examples of extra ways that we
can try to emulate: Healer of the sick, teacher of Torah to Israel,
dresses the naked, taking care of needs, good to all, patient, merciful,
loves the righteous, gives bread to the hungry, supports the fallen,
protects widows, orphans and strangers, chooses His people Israel with
love, gracious to forgive, gathers together the pushed off of His people
Israel, loves charity and justice, supports the righteous, builds
Jerusalem, listens to sincere petitions, returns the Shechinah to Zion,
shines His face, makes peace, does what He says, pays well those who fear
G-d, redeems and saves and protects, provides for all graciously.
A story is told about a professor who was walking down Madison Avenue
while feeling more than a little blue when he saw a shingle for a
psychiatrist’s office. He entered and was confronted by two doors. A sign
by one read “introvert” and the other “extrovert” after a brief moment of
introspective reflection he entered the door marked “introvert”. Then he
was confronted by another series of choices. One door was titled, “Makes
over $100,000.00” the other “Makes less than $100,000.00”. That was much
easier to figure. A teacher doesn’t make that much so he went through the
door marked “under $100,000.” and found himself back on Madison Avenue.
HASHEM nourishes the entire world “with His goodness, with favor, with
kindliness and with mercy” and ostensibly for free. What an abundance of
opportunities we have! Whatever we are already doing, if it is done with
the intention of emulating HASHEM there’s a chance to add an extra
dimension of depth to our lives. A mother who is already dressing her baby
or a feeding her young, a teacher who is exercising patience, or supporter
of Israel who is writing checks might want to have in mind some part of
the partial list above and to see if there is some way to add some zesty
flavor to already good living.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl. pointed out that two places in the Torah we are
commanded to “cleave”. “Therefore a man should leave his mother and father
and cleave to his wife…” (Breishis 3:24) And here we are bidden to cleave
to HASHEM. He asks a question of dual loyalty. How can we have two full
time jobs of 24/7? How can we be so absolutely dutiful and committed to a
spouse and at the same time devoted to HASHEM?
The answer will be made obvious. The Hebrew words “ish” and “isha” for man
and woman have two common letters. Alef and Shin. They each have two
different letters. Yud and Heh. The Talmud tells us that when there is
peace between them the Shechina (Divine Presence) resides between them.
The Yud and Heh spell HASHEM’s name. When there is no peace G-dliness
escapes. What remains is aleph-shin -AISH/fire. Therefore the attachment
that they both have to HASHEM is the real glue that binds them together.
By emulating The Almighty one can hope to grow nearer to another while
drawing even closer to HASHEM.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.