Loving With All Your Very

Thursday, 11 August, 2022 - 12:52 pm

In the Shema there is a passage (from this week’s Parsha) that states, “You shall Love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”

The obvious question is why the need for three sets of instructions to love G-d? There must be something in “soul” that is not covered by “heart,” and likewise with the third one.

Tangentially, the word for heart, is actually written in a way that implies two hearts. From this our sages derive that we must train both our “hearts” – our drives – the mission-oriented drive as well as the self-oriented drive, to love G-d. We do this by bringing our self-oriented drive to recognize that loving G-d is really good for me.

What about soul? This means that if we are faced with the choice between rejecting G-d or losing our lives, we must be willing to give up our very lives for G-d. Sadly, our history as a people has millions of Kedoshim - people who sanctified the name of G-d through their deaths.

So, the elephant in the room is, what can top giving your life for G-d? What could “loving with all your might” possibly add to the love demonstrated by literal self-sacrifice?

The Hebrew for might in the passage is Meod. The literal translation of Meod is very (much). When we say “with all your might” that means with everything you’ve got. Now, while giving up life itself for G-d is a very lofty level of devotion, at the same time, it is a split-second decision and implementation. Living for G-d, on the other hand, requires a stick-to-itiveness that could be even more challenging. It means maintaining a level of intensity that goes on and on, day to day, week to week, and year to year.

Loving with all your “very” is where the rubber meets the road on the path toward ultimate redemption.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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