Ahavat Hashem


What is Love?

Twice every day, in the Shema prayer, Jews recite "וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת ה' אֱלֹהֶיך", commonly understood to mean "You shall love Hashem". What, though, does it mean to love God? Love is difficult to define, and often means different things to different people – romantic attachment, giving and doing for another, loyalty, or trust. The question is even more complex when speaking of Hashem. Can the term even be applied to a being that one cannot see, let alone comprehend? Is love of Hashem comparable to human love, or must it be defined in totally different terms?

Commanding an Emotion?

The verse raises a second issue as well. How can one be commanded to love? Are emotions subject to one's will? Though it is fair to expect a person to act a certain way to another, is it reasonable to demand of someone to feel a certain way?

Additional Questions