"The Way of G-d"
Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"
Ch. 4: "Human Responsibility"
Besides infusing our directly mitzvah-related *and* everyday tasks with the
conscious will to draw close to G-d (as spoken of before), we're told here
that we're also to go about that in a certain spirit. We're to serve G-d out
of love and fear
Ramchal speaks here rather succinctly of the love and fear of G-d as being
potent means of drawing us close to Him. And of their having the ability to
uplift and enlighten us, and to advance us spiritually to a very great degree.
Nonetheless, he doesn't develop the ideas of loving and fearing G-d here, in
"The Way of G-d", and seems to combine the two. He does delve into both
separately and in greater detail in his well-known work, "The Path of the
Just". So we'll cite from our translation of that work here to illustrate the
In short, "loving" and "fearing" G-d comes to an intense relationship to Him
that’s expressed either by an ardent yearning for Him, or a stunned dread of
But it turns out that there are two sorts of love, and two sorts of fear. A
"lower" and a "higher", depending on the intensity involved.
The "lower" sort of love of G-d would entail wanting to make Him "proud" of
you much the way you'd like your parents to be proud of you. And going the
proverbial "extra mile" for Him.
As such the person expressing that sort of love, "would act as a loving son
would to his father and would do more than his father would ask for." He'd
even do things "his father only unobtrusively hinted at" rather than asked
for straight out. And "he'd deduce that such-and-such-- something beyond what
he was told-- would make his father happy", and he’d set out to do just that
Thus, one who loves G-d this way would go beyond the common expectations of a
devotee, and would want nothing better than to please Him. This sort of love
of G-d is rooted in respect and admiration.
The "higher" sort of love for G-d is depicted in more romantic, quickened
terms. One enjoying it would "literally desire and long for closeness to G-d"
and "pursue" Him much the way "one would pursue anything" or anyone "he
longed for". It's said that "even the mere mentioning of His name,
enunciating of His praises, and being occupied in His mitzvot and Godliness
would become a treat and a delight“ to such a person (Ch. 19).
The "lower" sort of fear of G-d is marked by the fear of going against His
wishes because of the possible reprisals. It's very easy to come by this sort
of fear since "everybody has an instinct for self-preservation" and because,
after all, "there’s nothing more likely to keep you away from doing something
harmful to yourself than the fear of injurious consequences" (Ch. 24).
Nonetheless, this sort of fear doesn't befit intelligent and inquisitive
spiritual seekers, we’re told. Since it’s rather primitive.
The second, "higher" sort of fear (or "awe") is referred to as "reverence for
G-d's Grandeur". It’s rooted in the realization of two truisms: "that G-d's
Presence is found everywhere, and that He involves Himself in everything,
great and small"; in the teeming appreciation of the fact that "nothing is
hidden from G-d, either... great or small, scant or imposing"; and in the
idea that "wherever you are, you stand in His Presence" (Ch. 25).
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