The Duties of the Heart
Gate Ten: "Loving G-d Wholeheartedly”
Understand that people love G-d for very different reasons. A few love Him
for some quite self-serving purposes, believe it or not; while others love
for more altruistic motives. We'll offer the first sort (because it's far
common, the truth be known), then we'll touch upon the latter, because
something deep in the soul longs to know what drives good people to do the
they do to grow close to G-d.
Put bluntly, many hapless souls love (or better said, *act like* they
G-d in the belief that doing that will somehow "inspire" G-d to do them
or take kind notice of them, or that it will one way or another persuade
to overlook their sins and accept them ... as if G-d could be bribed,
compelled, or coerced to change His mind! But that's clearly not the sort
for His presence and wanting nothing better than to cling to Him that
loving G-d; what it is, is an errant and insincere form of self-worship.
Others, though, worship and love G-d *for Himself*: in full realization of
His greatness and exaltedness, and for no other reason (much the way some
love a great thinker for his or her mind, for example, knowing full well
their love would never serve their own ends).
But how do we do that on a practical level? After all, we're all
outright to love G-d "with all (our) heart, all (our) soul, and all (our)
might" (Deuteronomy 6:5)! So what then does that mean, and how do we live
by its lead?
At bottom, our being asked to love G-d to that extent means we're to serve
Him with everything we are (i.e., with heart and soul) and everything we
(i.e., with all our might and means). But that, too, is rather broad. So,
Talmud (Yoma 82A) breaks it down thusly (with our explanation).
We're taught that "with all (our) heart" implies "with both our i
nclinations", meaning to say, with our bad as well as our good traits --
greed, for example, into a hunger for spiritual excellence; and being
shuddering at the thought of "spending" time on things that will distract
"With all (our) soul" implies "even if you have to sacrifice your life",
meaning to say -- on one level -- that you'd even be willing to give your
it were threatened to affirm your faith in Him; or on another level, to be
willing to sacrifice smaller goals for the larger one of drawing close to
And "with all (our) might" implies "with all your money", which indicates
that you're to use everything you have in His service.
Finally, Ibn Pakudah adds, the phrase also signifies that "we're to love G–
both in secret and openly", rather than just for public consumption; and
"never equate the love of G–d with the love of anything else" but rather
understand it to be the heights of spiritual growth.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org