Love – In memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)
“And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your possessions.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) This is the second verse of the “Shema Yisrael” .
The Sforno (Rabbi Ovadia ben Yaakov Sforno, Bologna, Italy; 1475 – 1550) defines “and you shall love Hashem” as follows: “It is the happiness of doing only that which is pleasant in His (G-d) eyes when realizing that there is no other purpose as important as His will.”
The Sforno’s premise seems strange. Why do we need one reason for loving Hashem? Aren’t there many reasons for loving Hashem? Among them, life, sustenance, etc…? And, of all the reasons for loving Hashem, why does the Sforno choose “doing only that which is pleasant in His (G-d’s) eyes”?
In truth, the Sforno is teaching us two things about life. First, there is no greater joy than the thrill of achievement. And, once we recognize that the greatest of achievement of all is fulfilling G-d’s will, doing so will bring us the greatest happiness. It is the gift of purpose – “the purpose of life”. This gift is the best reason to “love Hashem”.
The second lesson is that we are all on equal footing. No matter what material gifts we have received, we all share the same gift of purpose. Therefore, we all equally have the same commandment to love G-d.
There is no greater achievement than fulfilling G-d’s will. May we observe the Torah in that spirit and be truly blessed to love Hashem.