The Path of the Just
Chapter 19 (Part 9)
We’re all asked to love G-d; in fact, we’re commanded to. Yet while some are
better at that mitzvah than others (just as some are more attuned to Rosh
Hashanah than Passover, others find it easier studying Torah than praying,
etc.), others are actually gifted at it, like the pious. The truth be told,
one sure sign of piety in someone is the fact that his or her relationship
to G-d is rooted in love and awe.
Here’s how Ramchal depicts the sort of love that the pious experience. They
“actually desire and long for closeness to G-d” so powerfully that “even
mentioning His name, speaking His praises, or fulfilling His mitzvahs is a
sheer pleasure and delight” for them, much the way “someone who loves the
bride of his youth, or his only child” feels whenever he mentions that
“Someone who truly loves G-d wouldn’t stop his worship of Him for any reason
in the world” (other than when acute circumstances dictate otherwise, of
course). Such an individual “wouldn’t need to be convinced or persuaded to
serve Him” because “his heart would … (always) drive him towards his love
for G-d”. His would be the sort of "visceral love that just naturally
overtakes a lover".
As King David portrayed it in his own case, "My soul yearns for You, G-d,
like the hart yearns for the rivulets. My soul thirsts for G-d -- the living
G-d. When will I see G-d's face?" (Psalms 42:2–3); and, "My soul longs for,
pines for G-d's courtyards" (Psalms 84:3); as well as "My soul thirsts for
You, my flesh hungers for You" (Psalms 63:2). And as Isaiah the prophet
said, “The longing of the soul is for Your name and Your remembrance"
(Isaiah 26:8); and, "My soul has longed for You in the night. While the
spirit is still within me I will seek You" (Isaiah 26:9).
The truth be known it's easy enough to be enamored of G-d when all is well
and it's clear He has blessed your soul and shone His face upon you. But
it's difficult loving Him, searching Him out, or yearning for Him when all
is not well -- or horrible.
The former sort is deemed selfish love, the bleatings of a spoiled and
over-fed soul who expects only goodness and favor. "The true test of this
love”, i.e. of one’s love of G-d “comes into play during troubles and
sorrows", Ramchal points out.
At those times you'd need to reiterate this truism to yourself again and
again -- the fact that, "Everything done by Heaven is for the good"
(Berachot 60b). That's to say that "even our sorrows and woes are for our
ultimate good, though they may not seem to be". That's to say that while
things may be painful, hurtful or tough now, in the end it will all prove to
have mattered and to have been a part of the grand plan which we're not
Now, while we lesser souls would need to repeat that to ourselves numbers of
times and would need to ruminate about it in great depth, those pious
individuals who are thoroughly enamored of G-d would somehow know the truth
of that from the first, and live their lives accordingly.