�And thou shalt love the L-rd, thy G-d, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.� (Deut. 6)

�From the day the Temple was destroyed� the flavor has departed from the fruits.� (Sotah 48a)

To love the L-rd with all our heart and all our soul and all our might. We say the words twice a day but the question is: do we feel it even once in a lifetime? Do we really love the L-rd? Do we really know how to love the L-rd our G-d? Do we really know the criterion of that love, how to measure its standard? Do we really know what love itself is?

The truth is that we never feel that love in the way we are commanded. Too few know its criterion and what love itself must be for man, let alone that he feel it for his G-d. It remained for Maimonides, in his incredible greatness, to put it for us in sublime and simple clarity. And thus wrote the Master (Hilchot Tshuva, 10:3):

�And what is the proper love
(of G-d)? That he should love the L-rd with great, overwhelming and powerful love, until his soul shall be bound with love of the L-rd, and he is ravished by it as if he were sick with the pangs of love when his mind cannot be free of his love for a particular woman and he is ravished by her constantly whether sitting or standing, whether eating or drinking��

My love of G-d must be at least as great as the love that man has for a woman who fills his days and nights, his thoughts and his very being and existence, so that he cannot eat or sleep or stand or sit, without thinking and feeling his need for her. For this did G-d make man and woman - and love. For man, being finite, can only relate to the infinite in finite ways. He can only feel for the L-rd, that which for him is the ultimate of feelings - love for the creature that G-d created to be his loved and lover.

The beauty of love is the desire, the willingness, of man or woman to give of himself or herself unto the other. To seek to receive, to take from the object of one�s desire, is the very opposite of love. It is the baseness of lust, the cheapness of the animal. The beauty of G-d�s creation of man and woman lies in the creation of the concept of love, wherein man reaches the ultimate reason for his creation - the readiness to bend his desires and will, to bind his ego and self-centeredness, to give of himself and seek to bestow on another happiness and pleasure. To realize that he, alone, is empty and unfulfilled. To admit that he needs someone and is only half a being without her. This elevating of man through humility and readiness to give of himself is why G-d created love between man and woman.

This is what man must reach in his own life before he can attain the pinnacle of love of G-d. And how sad for the one who has never loved a woman for how can he then love the L-rd, his G-d?

And love of G-d is the major step towards love of the commandments, love of Israel, love of the Land of Israel,. And the truth is that we do not love these things either. Surely not as we would the woman who fills our life.

The Temple, the Land of Israel, destroyed and barren of glory. Do we really weep for these things? Do we really feel as empty as we would for a woman we loved and who has left our lives, when we see the Temple razed and the Mount filled with jackals?

Has the flavor of the fruits really departed for us? Do we really feel they lack sweetness and taste? And if the rabbis tell us (Sanhedrin 75a) that
�from the day the Temple was destroyed, the taste of sexual intercourse was taken away�, does the Jew really feel a loss? Do we feel any pain over the destruction of the Temple? Over the fact that we do not live in the Land of Israel? Have we really lost all appetite and desire, just as if we pined away over loss of a loved one?

Is there any desire to bind ourselves to the Land and Temple as we wallow in the fleshpots of the Exile? Do we really feel true love for G-d and His land, or have we become people who believe in mitzvoth and not in the L-rd our G-d?

The Almighty made man and placed within him the power to love. It is a great power, a great gift, but too often it turns inward as man carries on a life-long and passionate love affair with himself. Clearly one who is immersed in love with self can never love anyone else, least of all G-d. Only one who loves another and by so doing, gives of himself to that other, can ever hope to fulfill the commandment of loving the L-rd.

The Almighty created man in order that he reach the pinnacle of holiness by escaping from his bounds of self, through learning to harness his ego, his self, his "I." Only love of someone else - deep and total love - can allow him to reach the point from which he can achieve the totality of existence, love of the L-rd. Through love of woman, man gives all of himself that he believes he can possibly give. In G-d, he gives even more, more than he ever dreamed he could: all his heart and all his soul and all his might. That is what life is about; that is for what the Jew was created.

By Rabbi Meir Kahane
July, 1987
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