2 Kinds of Love of G-D

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 18:49

a) Love from Pleasure

b) Love from Fear


Iggeret HaKodesh, beginning of Epistle 18


הנה ב׳ מיני אהבות הן

There are two kinds of love, each of which subdivides further.

האחת: אהבה בתענוגים

The first is ahavah betaanugim,

דהיינו, שמתענג על ה׳ עונג נפלא

meaning that one delights wondrously in G‑d,

בשמחה רבה ועצומה, שמחת הנפש וכלותה, בטעמה כי טוב ה׳

with a great and immense joy, the joy of the soul and its yearning as it tastes that G‑d is good

ונעים נעימות עריבות עד להפליא

and as delightful as wondrously sweet delights.

This sweetness is not sensed as a result of one’s comprehension; rather, this is a sensation of wonderment at that which transcends one’s comprehension.

מעין עולם הבא ממש, שנהנין כו׳

It is truly a foretaste of the World to Come, where “[the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads], and take delight [in the radiance of the Divine Presence].”

ועל זה כתיב: שמחו צדיקים בה׳

Concerning this pleasurable experience of G‑dliness it is written, “Rejoice, you righteous, in G‑d,”

ולא כל אדם זוכה לזה

and not everyone merits this.

וזו היא בחינת כהנא ברעותא דלבא, שבזוהר הקדוש

This is the level [of love] which the sacred Zohar refers to in the phrase, kahana bire’uta delibba.

Lit., “The Kohen [serves G‑d] with the [innermost] desire of the heart”]. As opposed to the Levites, whose longing for G‑d surged forth (ratzo) and found outward expression in song, the service of the Kohanim was silent.

ועל זה נאמר: עבודת מתנה וגו׳

Moreover, of this [level of love] it is said, “[I shall grant you your priestly] service as a gift,”

The priestly level of love, ahavah betaanugim, is a gift from Above.

והזר הקרב וגו׳

“and the stranger who comes nigh — i.e., to this manner of service — [is liable to death],”

כי אין דרך להשיגה על ידי יגיעת בשר, כמו היראה

for there is no way to attain it by human efforts, as there is with the awe of G‑d,

ששואלין עליה: יגעת ביראה

concerning which [the departed soul] is asked [in the next world], “Did you labor with awe?”

I.e., “Did you toil to acquire an awe of G‑d?”

ואוי לבשר שלא נתייגע ביראה

Likewise, “Woe to the mortal who did not labor with awe,”

כמו שכתוב בראשית חכמה

as is written in Reishit Chochmah.

וכתיב ביראה: אם תבקשנה ככסף וגו׳

Of awe it is also written,“If you will seek it like silver, [and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will attain a fear of G‑d...].”

מלמד שצריכה יגיעה רבה ועצומה, כמחפש אחר אוצרות

This shows that it requires great and intense exertion, as when one searches for treasure.

It has already been explained (in Part I, ch. 42) that when one digs for a treasure that he knows beyond the shadow of a doubt lies buried in the depths of the earth, he will seek it tirelessly. Knowing with certainty that the fear of heaven lies buried in the understanding of the heart of every Jew, will lead to similar untiring efforts in revealing this spiritual treasure.

However, this only applies to the fear and awe of G‑d; even the loftiest degree of awe, yirah ilaah, is attainable through man’s efforts.

אבל אהבה רבה זו אהבה בתענוגים נופלת לאדם מאליה מלמעלה, בלי שיכין ויכוון לה

By contrast, this great love (ahavah betaanugim) comes upon a man by itself, from Above, without his preparing and intending himself for it,

אך ורק אחר שנתייגע ביראת הרוממות

but only after he has exerted himself in yirat haromemut, to attain the higher level of fear wherein he stands in awe of G‑d’s Majesty,

והגיע לתכלית מה שיוכל להשיג ממנה, לפי בחינת נשמתו

and after he has attained the maximum he is able to attain of that [awe], according to the level of his soul;

אזי ממילא באה האהבה בתענוגים מלמעלה לשכון ולתייחד עם היראה

then, of itself, the ahavah betaanugim comes from Above to dwell, and to become united, with the awe.

כי דרכו של איש לחזר כו׳, כמו שכתוב בלקוטי אמרים

For “It is the way of the man to search [for the woman],” as explained in Likkutei Amarim.

In Part I, ch. 43, the Alter Rebbe explains that love is termed “man” or “male”, while fear is termed “woman” (as in the verse,“A woman who fears G‑d...”). In spiritual terms, “It is the way of the man to search for the woman” means that the love of G‑d searches for the fear of G‑d and dwells with it.

Having spoken until now of the higher category in the love of G‑d called ahavah betaanugim, the Alter Rebbe now proceeds to consider the lesser love, ahavah zuta.

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