Vaeschanan 5769 – How to love G-d

I am happy to say that I am now beginning my fourth year of writing Divrei Simcha on the parsha for I must thank Reb Simcha Tamir for allowing me to write for this wonderful website for the past four years and I hope we can work together for many, many more years.

This week’s parsha, Va’eschanan, contains the famous first paragraph of the Shema – Ve’a’havta. Ve’a’havta begins by stating the commandment to love G-d with all your heart, all your soul, and all your possessions. This commandment is begging to ask a question: how can a person be “commanded” to love G-d? Love is an emotion that a person feels, so how can someone be commanded to display certain feelings? Rav Eliahu Eliezer Dessler in his famous work Michtav M’Eliahu shares an insight about love that may help answer this question.

Rav Dessler writes most people think the way to get someone to love them is to give the other person gifts because the receiver will have so much gratitude for the gifts, he will love the giver. The opposite is actually true. The one who will learn to love is the giver, not the receiver. When a person gives to another person, he will love the person he gives to more. The receiver might have appreciation for the present, but the one that will change his emotions is the giver. This is why parents love children more than children love parents because the parents constantly give while the children give very little. This is also why when parents get older and children start to take care of them, children suddenly feel love for their parents like they have never experienced before in their lifetime. This is because they have become givers and givers automatically love more. Rav Dessler proves this from the Hebrew word for love, which is ‘ahava’. Rav Dessler says the root of this word is ‘hav’ (the letters ‘heh’ and ‘ves’), which means ‘to give’. The way to become a lover is to give.

This now answers how a person can be commanded to “love” G-d. The way to love G-d is to give to G-d, which is through the performance of the commandments. If a person learns Torah, prays, and observes the commandments with “all of his heart, all of his soul, and all of his possessions”, then he will come to love G-d. The people who love someone or something the most are those that are willing to go over and above for the loved one. The way to get to that level is by first going over and above and then the love will automatically come. This is how we must behave with G-d if we want to love Him.

Good Shabbos!
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