Tanya Chapter 44: Loving Hashem-The love for life & love for your father

Chapter 44: Loving Hashem-The love for life & love for your father

2nd Iyar/28th Nissan

  1. Finding your personal love-The myriads of levels in the two types of love:
  • Both two qualities of love described in the previous chapter, which are Ahavah Raba and Ahavas Olam, subdivide into limitless grades and levels.
  • One’s level of Love is personally tailored for him: The specific grade and level attained by the individual is dependent on his personal spiritual capacity as granted to his soul by G-d. This follows the statement of the Zohar[1], who interprets the verse[2] “Noda Bashearim Baalah/The husband knows in the gates,” that this verse is describing Hashem [i.e. the husband of every Jewish soul] and how He attaches Himself in accordance to the gates of his heart.
  • Torah and mitzvot are equal for all while love fluctuates by person: It is for this reason that the Torah[3] describes the feelings of love and fear as “Nistaros LaHashem Elokeinu,” as in truth every Jewish soul has ability to experience a unique form and level which is only beknown to G-d. However, the Torah and Mitzvos are considered “revealed to us and our children” as they equally apply to all Jews, as all Jews must follow the same Torah laws and perform the same actions of the Mitzvos. This is in contrast to fear and love which its level and quality experienced by the person is dependent on his heart and mind.

The Divine lesson:

Every Jew contains a certain potential emotional relationship with Hashem in the closet of his heart which is metaphorically closed like a gate. If you don’t take your key and open the gate of your heart, that love and feeling may remain dormant forever. Every Jew is tasked with the job of finding the key [i.e. the contemplation and meditation] that opens the gates of his heart and allows his personal relationship and feelings for Hashem to pour out, each on his level. There exist a variety of ideas that one can contemplate on to invoke a G-dly feeling within oneself, although not all gates have the same key and thus each person will react differently with each contemplation. Find the idea/contemplation that fits your feelings and emotions and helps burn your heart with a passion for G-d.


  1. A love that incorporates all levels and is plausible for all people-The love for life:
  • There exists one love that is incorporated of all the aspects and levels of Ahava Raba and Ahavas Olam, and is plausible for every Jew, being an inheritance from our forefathers. This love is referred to in the Zohar as the love of life.
  • God is our life and we therefore love Him as we live our life: The Zohar[4] brings the verse[5] “Nafshi Avisicha Balayla etc/My soul, I desire you at night” and interprets it as follows: One should love Hashem the love of the soul and spirit, just as they are attached to the body and the body loves them. This then is the meaning of the words “My soul I desire you,” it means to say, “Since you Hashem are my soul and true life; therefore, I desire you.” Meaning, I desire and yearn for you like a man who yearns to live.
  • It is mostly conscious when you are weak or sleeping: This yearning for life becomes conscious in a person mostly when he is weak, and feels sick, in which case he desires and yearns that his soul return to him. Similarly, when one goes to sleep, he desires and waits that his soul return to him upon awakening.
  • A yearning to attach to God through learning His Torah: To this same measure one has a natural yearning and desire for Hashem and His infinite light who is the true source of life, to draw it down into his innards through learning Torah after awakening at night, as the Torah and Hashem are One. This too is expressed in the Zohar, as it states that man needs out of love for G-d to awaken each night and try to learn Torah until morning.

The Divine lesson:

Contemplate the idea that at every given moment you and all your surroundings that you benefit from, and enjoy, all are enlivened by the G-dly light found within them at all times. Meditate on this point until it becomes a vivid reality for your mind, and then focus on the fact that you have the ability to cleave to this source, to cleave to G-d Himself. This should arouse a feeling of yearning and passion for G-d. Then contemplate that in truth you can only incorporate the infinite G-dly light that you so passionately desire through the study of Torah. When you then go ahead and learn Torah it will be imbued with this burning fire and recognition that through doing so you are in truth fulfilling your passion and attaching to G-d.


3rd Iyar/29th Iyar

3.      The second natural inherited love-Love for Hashem due to Him being our father:

  • There exists a greater and more intense love than the love described above [which is a love for G-d due to Him being one’s life and spirit] which is likewise hidden in the hearts of every single Jewish soul, as an inheritance from our forefathers. This love is described in the Raya Mihemna [i.e. Zohar[6]] as a love in which the son attempts to help his father and mother, as his love for them is greater than his love for his very own life, spirit and soul [and he is willing to give up his life to save them[7]].
  • Not just for Moshe: Now, [although the above statement in the Zohar refers to Moshe’s Divine service, in truth it includes all the Jewish people as] we all have the same father. [Thus, every Jew has an inherit love for G-d due to the fact that He is our father. Accordingly, this love surpasses the intensity of the previous love for life, as in this love one loves G-d, one’s father, even more than life itself, while in the previous love the love of G-d is a result of one’s love of life and is limited to the intensity of one’s love for it.]


What if I don’t have conscious feelings of love for my father, or at least not to the point of giving up my life for him?

Some people may question the above concept, that viewing G-d as one’s father will automatically arouse a powerful and rapturous love for Him, based on the state of their current relationship with their biological father here on earth. Some people have a tenuous relationship with their parents, at times caused by hard feelings of previous events, and it becomes very difficult to relate how viewing G-d as one’s father should automatically bring this intense love when they don’t see it expressed in their own lives. While all this may be true, the intent of the Zohar is in reference to a son who sees his father in a state of captivity and helplessness, and will try to do everything to help him. It does not simply refer to a normal day in the relationship of father and son. Now, the feelings invoked in a time that one’s father is in need is applicable even to sons who suffer from a bad relationship with their father. If, G-d forbid, the father enters into a state where he needs real help, such as a terminal illness, or passes away, a flood of emotion of love pours into the heart of even such a son. Thus, we see that every son truly contains a palpable love for his parent, and it is simply at times concealed due to life events. It is this level of love that every person has for his parent that one also has for Hashem. In fact, when concentrating on this idea, on how one truly has a deep passionate love for his parent and how then one also loves Hashem who is his father, it can also assist in reigniting the love of one’s biological father even during healthy times. 


How is Hashem our father?

A regular father fulfills many aspects for the child which causes the child to have a natural love for him. This includes: a) Producing the child and being the one responsible for his existence in this world. One thus owes his existence to his father. b) Investing time care and money into the upbringing of the child. While contemplating the above helps invoke the feeling of love a child has for his father, in truth the love is above logic or reason and is naturally imbedded in one psyche due to one being an extension of the soul of one’s father; he and his father are truly one and the same essence. The same applies regarding our relationship with Hashem. Hashem created our soul and body originally at birth, and at every moment thereon. We thus owe him our existence. He also cares for us, and provides us with all our needs, just like a regular father. However, while contemplating this assists in revealing one’s love for Hashem, in truth the love one has is a lot deeper than the above, and is above logic or reason, as we too, the Jewish people are an extension of G-d. We contain a G-dly soul which is an actual emanation of G-dliness, and is hence identical to the extension of a son from his biological father. This is why the above idea of Hashem being our father is only relevant to Jews, as only we contain such a soul. Gentiles for example, while they too have reason to view G-d as their father, as Hashem also created them and provides them, nonetheless this is more like the relationship of an adoptive son to his parent, and not like that of a biological son to his father. The adoptive son is not an extension of the soul of his adopted father and hence lacks that natural emotion which is above logic or reason, towards this adoptive father. Only a Jew contains that G-dly soul and is hence an extension of Hashem Himself.


Summary of points to contemplate:

·         Hashem created me and creates me every moment, and is responsible for my existence just like my father.

·         Hashem provides me with all my needs, just like my father.

·         My soul is made of G-dliness and is an extension of Hashem’s light, thus making it an actual extension of Hashem. Just like my soul is an extension of my father’s soul, and I thus have a naturally infinite love for him, so too my G-dly soul is an extension of G-d Himself, and I thus have a naturally infinite love for Him, my true Father.


4.      This love is received from Moshe:

  • The light of Moshe shines in each generation: Although it is true, that it would be quite pompous and arrogant for one to attempt to reach even 1/1000 of a degree of love attained by Moshe Rabbeinu [whose love was described in the Zohar], nonetheless, a minute portion of Moshe’s goodness and light shines to the general population of Israel in every generation.
  • It is thus stated in the Tikkunim[8] that an emanation of Moshe is present in every generation, in order to enlighten them. [Now, although it was previously stated that this love is an inheritance from our forefathers, which is in reference to our patriarch Avraham, and not Moshe, this only refers to the love in general, that there is a general feeling of love inherited in the soul of each Jew due to that Hashem is our father. However, that this love reaches the intensity that one loves Hashem more than his own life, this indeed is a result of the service of Moshe and the ray that he shines within the souls of each generations.[9]]


5.      The state in which this love is found in every Jew and how to make oneself conscious of it:

  • State of concealment: The above ray that shines by Moshe into the souls of each generation is in a state of great concealment. Nonetheless, to bring out this hidden love from its state of concealment to a revealed state of consciousness in one’s heart and mind is not beyond one’s reach at all. It is neither daunting nor a distance away, but is truly very close to one’s mouth and heart.
  • How is this accomplished-Verbalizing the love? By one accustoming himself to verbally express with his tongue and voice this love, until it arouses the concentration of his heart and mind, to immerse his thoughts in the ideas that arouse this love. Meaning, that one’s mind deeply concentrates on the idea that Hashem is the life of all life, and that he is truly our father, and the source of our life. This then arouses the love for G-d, similar to the love of a son to his father.
  • Now, when one accustoms himself continuously to express the above and meditate on it, this feeling will become part of his nature [and will be quite easy to re-enter into one’s consciousness daily even without much deep concentration].

The Divine lesson:

Find a quiet and relaxing place where you can be undisturbed with your thoughts, and retain privacy. Express and verbalize aloud the points discussed in how G-d is truly your father. If necessary, create for yourself a mantra that expresses these ideas, and say it over and over with concentration, until you begin consciously feeling a palpable love for G-d, your father, in your heart. Repeat this on occasion so the love remain fresh and easily arousable.


4th Iyar

6.      Even if the love does not feel real-it is real:

  • [What should one do if he tries the above contemplations to arouse a love for Hashem like a son to his father, but is unsuccessful in feeling a true feeling in his heart. Should this love be dismissed, or does even its imagination have some power. The Alter Rebbe answers as follows:] Even if one feels that the love aroused through his contemplation is seemingly a figment of his imagination, and not a true love, he should not become downed by this, as it is intrinsically true, as in truth every Jew contains a hidden love in his heart. [Furthermore, regarding the purpose of this love, it makes no difference if one actually feels it, or imagines that he feels it, as explained next.]

7.      The purpose of the love-To perform Torah and mitzva’s:

  • The entire purpose of revealing this love is to motivate one to perform the actions of learning Torah and doing Mitzvos [for the proper reasons].
  • How the love motivates the fulfillment of mitzvahs: Meaning, that as a result of having this love revealed he will learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos in order to give gratification to Hashem, like a son serving his father. [Thus, even if his love is imaginative, so long as brings these results in his intent of his learning and Mitzvos, it has fulfilled its purpose.]
  • Hashem attaches the thoughts of love to the action: [Now, although the quality of this intent is lacking if in truth the love is merely imaginative, nevertheless] on this Chazal state that a good thought Hashem attaches to the action to become wings to make the good deed fly above. [Thus, although Torah and Mitzvos require a motivation of love and fear to make it soar upwards to G-d, which refers to a palpable love felt in the heart, nevertheless if one only manages to conceive a love in his mind, Hashem sees his good intent and turns it into the wings that would have been created through the emotional love.]

8.      The pleasure Hashem gets from one’s Torah and Mitzvos:

  • Like the joy of a father whose son was redeemed from captivity: [Above, it was stated that the purpose of this love is so one serve Hashem with the intent of causing Him gratification. Now, what gratification does Hashem get from one’s service?] The gratification Hashem receives from one’s Divine service is similar to the joy of a king who greets his son who came to him after being liberated from captivity. [The G-dly soul of a Jew is, as explained above, an extension of Hashem, and akin to a son of G-d. When this Jew performs Torah and Mitzvos, it redeems the beloved son-the soul- from the concealment and spiritual captivity that it was found in within the physical world, body and animal soul. This causes Hashem much joy.]
  • The joy of being able to dwell below: Another gratification that Hashem receives through one’s Divine service is due to that He is now able to dwell below. [The entire reason for creation is because Hashem desired that mortal beings who face spiritual challenges invite Him to their world. Thus, when we serve Him with Torah and Mitzvos we invite Him to the world and fulfill this purpose, thus giving Him much gratification. Accordingly, the above-mentioned love of a son to a father which one is to contemplate and reveal, is to then be used to serve Hashem to cause Him gratification of seeing his son redeemed from captivity and giving Him a dwelling place below.]

9.      How to make oneself conscious of the first love-the love for one’s life:

  • [All that was stated above regarding the second form of love of a son to his father, is equally true regarding the first form of love, the love for one’s life.] Also, the first form of love for Hashem who is one’s life is very easily attainable to bring it from its dormant state into one’s consciousness.
  • Verbalize and think of the love to arouse it: This is accomplished through habituating oneself to verbalize and think of this love, thus making the love be equally on his lips and heart.
  • Even if can’t arouse love simply imagining it suffices: Nonetheless, even if he is unable to accomplish an arousal of a true emotion of love in his heart, he is still able to serve Hashem, learn Torah and perform Mitzvos, for the sake of Heaven, through imagining this love in one’s mind, and Hashem will then attach this good thought to the action [as stated above.]

5th Iyar

10.  The above two loves attain the status of intellectual love and fear:

  • The above two loves [a) love for Hashem who is one’s life, and love for Hashem who is one’s father] although they are both an inheritance from our forefathers, and have become like a nature within our souls, nevertheless they are not considered like natural love and fear. [Rather, they are considered similar to the intellectual love and fear of Hashem, as will be explained.]
  • Natural love is not consciously revealed in the heart-Goes to Yetzira: The reason for this is because a natural love is only defined as such if remains within one’s mind alone and is not consciously revealed within the heart, and rather remains there in a concealed state. Such natural love can only be elevated to the ten Sefiros of the world of Yetzira, to which it brings the Torah and Mitzvos that were performed with this love.
  • Intellectual love is in Beriyah: Rather, the above two loves when they are revealed within the person, are considered similar to intellectual love, and is called by the Zohar “Reusa Deliba.” Such love is elevated to the ten Sefiros of the world of Beriyah, to which it brings the Torah and Mitzvos that were performed with this love.
  • The reason: The reason that the above natural loves are considered intellectual is because it takes deep intense and lengthy contemplation from the depths of the heart on the infinite light of G-d, and how He is truly our life and father, to bring it into a state of consciousness and revelation within the person. Now, the Zohar states that Binah, which is the understanding of the heart and contemplation of G-d, rests in Beriyah, [and hence this is the natural place for the above natural love].
  • Includes Ahava Raba: The above two loves include within them the levels of love known as Ahavas Raba.
  • Higher than Ahavas Olam: Furthermore, the above two loves are even higher and greater than regular Ahavas Olam, which is an intellectual love.

6th Iyar/2nd Iyar

11.  The necessity for arousing the love of Ahavas Olam-Contemplation:

  • It does not suffice to arouse the previous loves of “My life” and “My father,” but one must also arouse the love of Ahavas Olam which consists contemplating G-d’s greatness with intent to arouse an unquenchable passionate love for G-d.
  • This form of love is advantageous over the previous forms as it is the result of ones intellect, creates a stronger passion, and is likened to the value of gold over silver.
  • In addition, this love fulfills the entire purpose of man’s creation, which is to know G-d’s greatness, to the best of his ability.

[1] Zohar 1 103b [Lech Lecha]

[2] Mishlei 31:23

[3] Devarim 29:28

[4] Zohar 3 68a

[5] Yeshayahu 26:9

[6] Zohar 3 281a [Parshas Ki Seitzei]

[7] Zohar ibid

[8] Tikkun 69, 112a, 114a

[9] Based on a gloss of the Rebbe printed in Lessons in Tanya

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.