The first part discussed the basic difference between
ahavoh and emunoh: the latter is an internal
action that does not require the object. One can believe in
something even if that thing is not present. Love, on the
other hand, is a relationship that requires the presence of
a beloved object. We can acquire emunoh, belief in
Hashem, with evidence indicating that He exists, but we
cannot develop love of Him without some direct way to reach
Him. The Rambam gives us instructions for searching for Him:
learn about exalted spiritual beings, including angels and
the human soul. When you are exposed to these great and
wondrous spiritual creatures, you will realize that their
Creator is even greater and more wondrous. The Rambam goes
on to cite other aspects of the Creation that he considers
suitable to arouse love of Hashem. In my opinion, all of
what the Rambam cites has never been disproved but rather
abandoned by modern science as being beyond empirical
methods. Science has nothing to say about angels and souls,
and never will have anything to say.
In the time of the Rambam, these matters were considered
part areas of interest for a typical scientific researcher.
The scientists of our day in fact see themselves as the
heirs of those researchers. But it should be clear that none
of the statements in these matters was ever disproved or
even could be disproved by empirical science. It was all
just shoved aside as being outside the area of competence of
modern science whose interest is self-limited -- strictly,
arrogantly, and with false and somewhat silly pride -- to
the sensible (i.e. accessible to the senses) world. Anything
that is not fully sensible is elbowed aside with, in some
unfortunate cases, a disdain that has no foundation. (Of
course, it is well-known that there are many modern
scientists who are fully religiously observant.) Modern
science tends to look down its nose at those matters which
are outside its self-limited area of competence, for example
refusing -- or trying to refuse -- to allow them to be
taught in the same classrooms.
Nonetheless, many gedolim vetovim of our day said as
follows: Our Master the Rambam looked among the findings of
the science of his day, and he cited those findings as a
means to acquire love of Hashem Yisborach. However
that knowledge, which was considered the highest achievement
in his day, is not considered to be of value in our day. Let
us look among the findings of the science of our day in
order to allow people of our day to acquire love of Hashem
They looked and they found. For example, the wonderful
systems of the human body, which are designed and
constructed with what we can now appreciate as stunning
wisdom and amazing coordination between the desired results
and the means available in each case. Such as the eye, which
can see so much and with such precision, even though it is
mounted on a platform that walks, moves and swivels in all
directions from instant to instant. The eye can see a
constantly changing scene, and the person can grasp what is
seen. The coordination between the eye and the associated
brain that we find in nature is also amazing. The human
brain can process the information supplied by the human eye,
and the ant brain, for example, can process the information
supplied by the ant eye -- even though there are ants whose
eyes have around a thousand different lenses instead of the
one that we have. Truly mafli la'asos!
Or, for example, the wonderful properties of water that are
unique among materials in the world -- yet without them life
would probably be impossible on the Earth. Or the forces of
nature (gravity and atomic forces) -- if they were a little
bit stronger or weaker, nothing would work. Without a doubt:
This is what the gedolim vetovim of our day have found
(and much more along these lines).
However, in my opinion, there is a profound confusion here
between belief in Hashem (emunoh) and love of Hashem.
These people went to look for love of Hashem -- ahavas
Hashem -- and they found belief in His existence. But
they did not find Him, Himself, to love.
All these wonderful and true and complex and beautiful
insights and knowledge are all just an elaboration of
nothing more than what is in the final analysis the
properties of blotte -- mud. It is all knowledge of
the lowly matter of our material world. It is all true
wisdom and it is all truly wisdom, but it is wisdom that is
embedded in mud. In principle, it does not matter whether
the mud is mixed with flecks of gold that glistens, or if it
is mixed with stinking garbage. The matrix and outer garment
of all of this amazing and very useful knowledge of modern
science is the matter of Olom Hazeh.
Without any doubt, the source of all this wisdom is the
Creator of the World. But the light of the Creator traveled
very far from its source before it could become embedded in
the coarse matter of our world.
When we see and understand this wisdom, it shows us
conclusively that there is a Creator. All these systems
cannot be the product of blind chance. If we see in every
nook and cranny of the mud such wonderful things, we know
that it was all designed by a Designer and did not just
happen to be. Mud cannot make even more mud -- and can
certainly not make vegetable, animal, and humanity.
This insight, especially when it is accompanied by a deep
and comprehensive recognition of the wisdom that is embedded
in flesh, is very moving. But this feeling is the feeling
that is produced by a deepening of emunoh, a fuller
and deeper awareness of the existence of the Creator of the
world, and has nothing whatsoever to do with love of Him.
Love is a feeling, or at least certainly includes a feeling.
But not all feeling is love.
We said earlier that in order to love Hakodosh Boruch
Hu we need to have Him present, as it were. The way to
love Him is to contemplate "His deeds and His great and
wondrous creatures," that is to say, the angels in all their
variety and the souls of humanity, and from that exercise to
love their Creator.
Contemplation of the properties of lowly matter, the stuff
of this world, as moving as it may sometimes be, does not
bring directly to love of Hashem.
The tremendous distance that there is between this lowly
world and the elevated worlds of the spirit indicates that
the lowly creatures are not an efficient tool to arouse
On the contrary. Even though the material world can serve as
a springboard to spiritual growth, the greatest danger is
that it will serve the opposite: the pull of the material on
we who reside in the clay houses of our bodies is a powerful
force towards materialism and away from spirituality.
Excessive contemplation of the material is liable to bring
the subject to wallow in the sea of materialism rather than
to help him to soar towards spirituality.
It is well known that the great iron curtain that divides us
from our Heavenly Father is the body. We do not try to
weaken the body with extensive self-affliction, but it is
clear that it is essential to be in control of the body and
its desires. This alone makes it dangerous to spend too much
time contemplating the material world in order to reach love
To love Hashem it is necessary to break the fleshly barrier
and to reach spirituality, and ultimately Hakodosh Boruch
In order to love Hashem we must become closer to
spirituality so that we can get closer to Him, since He is
the Source of all. In order to get closer to the spiritual
realm, we must come to know the residents of the realm. The
better we know them the closer it brings us to their area.
This can be seen to be true even without being experienced.
In contrast, a preoccupation with matter -- and even the
wisdom embedded within matter -- does not bring one closer
to the world of the spirit. It would take a considerable
effort to ensure that such a preoccupation not distance the
person from that world.
What the Rambam writes in these chapters is, in his own
words, "like a mere drop in the ocean of what needs to be
explained in this area." But this drop includes the basics
of angels and the human soul, and it is to them that the
Rambam referred in writing of "His great and wondrous
creatures." This is a complex realm and there are many
distinct kinds of angels, as the Rambam quotes, "And this is
what Shlomo in his wisdom hinted to in saying, `There is a
higher and higher guardian.' "
He who thinks and learns about these creatures learns to
appreciate and becomes more familiar with spiritual reality.
He learns that these matterless forms are alive and
important. As he learns more about them, and comes to know
them and their greatness better, he lifts himself out of the
darkness of material reality and spurs himself to seek more
spirituality, like these creatures, and he certainly
"increases his love of Hashem, and his soul with thirst and
his flesh pine to love Hashem, may He be blessed" (4:12).
In the Sefer Mitzvos, Mitzvah 3, the Rambam brings
another means to come to love of Hashem: "That we think and
contemplate His mitzvos and His words and His deeds, until
we grasp Him and we take ultimate pleasure in grasping Him.
This is the obligatory love. As the Sifri says: It says,
"And you shall love Hashem your G-d," but I do not know how
to love Him. So we learn from what is says, "And these
words, which I command you today, shall be upon your heart."
From this, you come to recognize He Who spoke and the world
came into being.
In other words, another way to achieve ahavas Hashem
is to learn Torah -- "these words." From what we have been
saying this is very reasonable: Since the Torah is itself
spiritual, and also brings those who study it strongly and
steadily closer to spirituality, learning Torah will
certainly bring the learner to "recognize He Who spoke and
the world came into being."
It is also worthwhile to quote another passage from the
Rambam, at the end of the Sefer Maddo at the close of
Hilchos Teshuvoh (10:3): "And what is the appropriate
love? It is that he will love Hashem a tremendous, excessive
and extremely powerful love, until his soul is bound to
ahavas Hashem, and he is madly involved with it
always: As if he were lovesick, and his mind is never free
of the woman that he is madly in love with, when he rises
and when he goes to sleep, and when he eats and when he
"Greater than this must be the love of Hashem in the hearts
of those who love Him. They must be mad about Him always, as
He commanded: `. . . with all your heart and with all your
soul' (Devorim 6:5). And this is what Shlomo said, as
a metaphor, `. . . for I am lovesick' (Shir Hashirim
2:5); and all Shir Hashirim is a metaphor for his
Ahavas Hashem -- love of Hashem -- is a constant
mitzvah that we are obligated in all the time, day and
night. Yehi rotzon that we will seek it properly and
fully fulfill it.