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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

To love the Divine


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By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com |


“You shall love your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your resources.”

  —   Deut. 6:5


A number of commentaries pose the question, ''How can an emotion be legislated? Love develops in a relationship. Can someone be commanded to love? Furthermore, how can one develop love for G-d Who can neither be seen nor touched and is beyond a sense experience?''

Several answers are given. The founder of the Chassidic movement, Baal Shem Tov, said that we should behave in a manner that will result in love for others This will automatically result in love for G-d.

One of the commentaries pointed out that true love is reciprocal, as King Solomon says, ''Just as water reflects one's image, so does the heart of a person reflect the heart of another person'' (Proverbs 27:19). The blessing preceding the central Shema prayer describes G-d's intense love. Our love for G-d, therefore, is reciprocated.

The obvious question is: Why do we not feel this intense love for G-d? The answer is that King Solomon speaks of the reflection in water rather than in a mirror. The difference is that a mirror can reflect an image even at a distance, whereas water will reflect an image only at close range. If one will come close to G-d through the observance of His mitzvos, religious duties, one will feel the reciprocated love for Him.

Another answer is given in the Talmud (Yoma 86a), that the term v'ahavta, usually translated as "you should love", can mean ''you shall make G-d's Name beloved by others.'' When a Jew relates to people in a pleasant manner and transacts honestly, this causes people to admire G-d and His Torah. V'ahavta is thus a commandment of behavior rather than emotion.

One of the most interesting explanations is that of Maimonides (Yesodei HaTorah 2:2). He raises the question:''What is the way to achieve love of G-d?'' and answers, ''If a person will meditate on His great and marvelous works and see from them His wisdom which is beyond measure and infinite, one will promptly love, praise and exalt G-d and have an intense desire to know Him.'' At first blush, this does not appear to answer the question. Awareness of G-d's infinite wisdom may result in adoration, but how does it produce love?

The commentary on Maimonides says that he is redefining the word ahavah (love). The ahavah with which we are most familiar is between two people, such as parent and child, husband and wife. This ahavah is generally contingent on the benefits one derives from the relationship. There is a second type of ahavah, which is a desire to be in the close presence of someone, in an intimate relationship, as a result of the adoration of someone.

We may get an inkling of this desire if we observe the ''hero worship'' that some children may have for prominent sports figures. Such a child will collect pictures of his hero and is thrilled to get his autograph. He may mimic his hero's actions, and if he is asked, ''If you had just one wish, what would it be?'' he would probably answer, ''I'd just like to be with . . .'' To be close to his hero may be the child's most fervent desire.

It is the intense desire to be near G-d, in an intimate relationship with Him, that Maimonides defines as ahavah . Maimonides has good reason for this concept. Moses says, ''(I instruct you) to love G-d, to hearken to His voice and to cleave to Him'': The concept of cleaving unto G-d is stated several times in the Torah (Deuteronomy 4:4, 10:20).

In order to achieve the adoration of G-d that will produce this type of ahavah, Maimonides says that one must reflect on His marvelous works. We can see this in Psalms, where King David extols the wondrous and beautiful world, exclaiming, ''How abundant are Your works, G-d. With wisdom You made them all. The world is full of Your acquisitions'' (Psalms 104:24), and again, ''When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have set in place'' (ibid. 8:4).

The prophet bewails those who indulge in revelry. ''The works of G-d they do not note, and the accomplishments of His hands they do not see'' (Isaiah 5:12). Radak comments, ''From the wisdom of the heavenly bodies one can reach to the honoring of G-d, as it is said, 'How majestic Your name is throughout the land . . . when I see Your heavens and the work of Your fingers' (Psalms 8:2,4), and it is said, 'The heavens relate the glory of G-d' (ibid. 19:2). This means that if one understands the code of creation, one will know the glory of G-d. The prophet says, 'Lift our eyes to high and see Who created these' (Isaiah 40:26), whereby he means that if one contemplates this wisdom, one can know therefrom the glory of G-d.''

Chapter 92 of Psalms begins with, ''A song for the Sabbath day.'' Yet, there is not a single reference to the Sabbath in the entire psalm! Rather, the Psalmist says, ''You gladden me, G-d, by Your accomplishments; I sing of the works of Your hands. How great are Your works, O G-d, how profound are Your thoughts. A simpleton does not know, and a fool does not understand this.'' What is the relevance of these verses to the Sabbath?

The Midrash says that this psalm was composed by Adam. Sabbath marks the completion of creation. When Adam saw the wondrous works that G-d had created in the six days of creation, he was overcome with the infinite wisdom of G-d that he saw in creation. Indeed, this is beyond the grasp of fools and simpletons.

If only one understood the incomparable marvel of the human body! If all the computers in the world were combined, they would be dwarfed by the human brain, whose 14. 5 billion parts are in complex interaction. My professor of neurophysiology said that from the time a pitcher throws the baseball until the batter swings at it, hundreds of thousands of messages are transmitted throughout the central nervous system

At the base of the brain there is the pituitary gland, the size of one's thumbnail, that continually analyzes many substances in the blood and regulates the body's production of them, keeping them within an incredibly small and precise range. Beneath the brain there is an organ, the cerebellum, which at all times registers the status of every muscle in the body. Simply changing one's glance results in the cerebellum's registering the change of position of every muscle involved, and there are twelve muscles involved in every eye movement.

As the batter's eyes follow the ball, the many movements of all the eye muscles are registered, and through complex connections, the many muscles involved in the batter's stance and swing are coordinated. A thorough understanding of the many processes involved is mind-boggling.

The chemical processes performed by the liver could not be duplicated by a fully computerized factory. The finest dialysis apparatus cannot come close to the efficiency of the millions of tiny filters in the kidney.

A physician specializing in infertility said, ''I looked through the microscope at a fertilized ovum, and realized that from now on, all that would be added to it would be nutrient chemicals, and from this tiny, single cell would fashion a human being. I knew then that there is a G-d.''

Whether one examines a leaf under the microscope or peers through a powerful telescope at the vast universe, one just begins to appreciate the infinite wisdom and majesty of G-d, which will indeed result, as Maimonides says, in the type of ahavah that one would have an intense desire to be in an intimate relationship with Him. It was his understanding of the awesome greatness of the Divine's works that led King David to say, ''My soul thirsts for You; my flesh pines for You'' (Psalms 63:2) and ''Only one thing do I ask of Hashem, it is that which I seek: to dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life'' (ibid. 27:4).

If we are lacking in this type of love of the Divine, it is because we fail to appreciate the marvels of Creation in the way King David and Maimonides did.

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Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 30 books to his credit, including, "Twerski on Chumash" (Bible), from which this was excerpted (Sales of this book help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

© 2008, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.