Ahavat Hashem

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One of the most central mitzvot of the Torah is love of Hashem. The mitzvah is fulfilled by contemplating His mitzvot and His actions until we understand Him and reach an emotional loving bond with Him.[1]

Aspects of the Mitzvah

  1. Loving Hashem is a specific mitzvah that applies at all times to all men and women.[2]
  2. Additionally, serving Hashem out of love applies to every single mitzvah and elevates it significantly.[3] Serving Him out of love is a result of loving Him generally.[4]
  3. Another method of fulfilling loving Hashem is by causing others to love Him.[5]

How to Love Hashem

  1. How can a person acquire love of Hashem?
  • Rashi Devarim 6:6 writes that through learning Torah a person comes to love Him and cleaves to Him.
  • When a person thinks about His awesome actions and beautiful creations, contemplating His wisdom which has no end, immediately he will comes to love Him and have a burning desire to know Hashem.[6]

Limits

  1. Loving Hashem means loving Him intensely with a passion so that a person is constantly thinking about Him. It is so overwhelming that it is like a love sickness.[7]
  2. There is no limit to how a person should fulfill this mitzvah. Even if it means giving up one's life or using all of his money he must do so.[8] Giving up one's life not to serve Avoda Zara is the ultimate expression of a person's love for Hashem.[9]
  3. See Constant Mitzvot as to whether one could fulfill it in the bathroom.

Types of Love of Hashem

  1. The proper love of Hashem shouldn't be a love that is dependant on something such as because of the wealth or success He gives you but independent on anything physical. It should be like the love of a son to a father as it says הלא הוא אביך קנך.[10]

Ahavat Hashem in Mussar

There are three branches to Ahavat Hashem: Devekut (cleaving to Hashem), Simcha (happiness), and Kinah (zealousness).[11]

Sources

  1. Devarim 6:5, Sefer Hachinuch 418, Rambam Sefer Hamitzvot Aseh 3
  2. Sefer Hachinuch 418
  3. Rashi Devarim 6:5 writes that there is no comparison between serving Hashem out of love and fear. Someone who serves Him out of love won't give it even if it becomes difficult. Rambam Teshuva 10:1 describes serving Hashem out of love as being motivated to do what is right because it is right.
  4. Rambam Teshuva 10:1
  5. Yoma 86a
  6. Rambam Yesodei Hatorah 2:1, Tehilim 42:3
  7. Rambam Teshuva 10:2, Shir Hashirim 2:5
  8. Brachot 60b
  9. Ramban Shemot 20:6
  10. Devarim 32:6, Mesilat Yesharim ch. 19 s.v. vheneh zot
  11. Mesilat Yesharim ch. 19 s.v. vniva'er ata