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Connecting Everything With Love

Friday, 22 October, 2021 - 1:57 pm

What is the ideal dynamic of a relationship with G-d? What is the most effective approach to motivating ourselves or someone else with respect to our Judaism? There was a time when fear was an accepted approach to keeping people on the straight and narrow path. This method may have even been somewhat effective, though it can be argued that fear alone has major limitations as a motivator.

I recently read an interview with an educator from a very religious institution, talking about guidance he got from the Rebbe in the 1960s. Today we cannot just lay out a list of “don’ts” or speak of negative consequences for failure to follow the religion. We must educate with love. We should focus on the beauty of Judaism and foster the student’s appreciation of it.

There is a passage in the Zohar where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai offers various opinions in answering our opening question. He then concludes with his own take on the best method of conveying Judaism. “We connect everything with love.” He goes on to cite several passages from Tanach to prove this.

In fact, there is a narrative in this week’s Torah portion that expresses the same idea. Speaking of Avraham Hashem declares (Gen. 18:19), “For I have known him because he commands his sons and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the L-rd to perform righteousness and justice.” Rashi comments, “For I have known him: an expression of love.” He then goes on to elaborate. “…if one loves a person, he draws him near to himself and knows him and is familiar with him.”  

When we love Hashem, we want to become more familiar with Him and what He wants of us. When we know Hashem loves us, we become aware that fulfilling His will is in our benefit as well. With love as the foundation, everything about our connection with Hashem is more passionate and vibrant.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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