Love God means love yourself and others

Dvarim [Deuteronomy] 6:4

Love God.

How do you command love? Translation is part of this problem, for one can only interpret Hebrew in English.

The Hebrew is in the perfect tense: an action is complete …

וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְיָ֣

Hebrew favours perfect and imperfect tenses — an action is done or not and the present tense is implied when it is considered at all.

This becomes very imprecise in English. English prefers past, present, and future — I was, I am, I will.

An English translation of the Hebrew is actually “And you have loved G!d.” This is heretical — but only in English.

To avoid this absurdity, we interpret the Hebrew to mean You will love G!d.

The mitzva of …

וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְיָ֣

is not a mitzva to love G!d. It is a mitzva to appreciate G!d, to admire G!d’s creation, to respect G!d’s creatures (including other human beings), to yearn for abundance (for this feeds both the creature and the creation).

Reb Arie

A chaplain, spiritual director, and educator, Arié Chark (“Reb Arie”) is Rector at The Metivta of Ottawa. A strong sense of personal mission has led Reb Arie to convene various civil society projects under the auspices of The Metivta of Ottawa, including the Ottawa Roundtable and the Abrahamic Chaplaincy Board.