While many view religious rituals as entry points into the spiritual realm, there's a profound depth lurking beneath these outward actions. * Exploring the depths of love and awe for G-d through the tactile experience of tefillin. * On the Hayom Yom entry for 20 Menachem Av.
Hayom Yom draws a parallel between the tactile experience of donning tefillin and the emotions of love and awe for G‑d. It suggests, "Just as the mitzvah of tefillin has its specific placement on the head and arm, and one tangibly feels the heft of the head-tefilla and the snug embrace of the hand-tefilla, so too should our emotions of ahava (love) and yira (awe) for G‑d resonate with a similar palpability."
While many view religious rituals as entry points into the spiritual realm, there's a profound depth lurking beneath these outward actions. Take the mitzvah of tefillin as an example. It isn't merely a ritual; it's a multi-sensory experience that symbolizes our enduring bond with the Divine. Each wrap around the arm, each positioning on the forehead, serves not just as a physical act, but as a tactile reaffirmation of our covenant. The lingering question, then, is this: Can these tangible experiences genuinely echo the depth and intensity of our emotional connection with G‑d?
The Psalmist exclaims: "Taste and see that the Lord is good!" (Psalms 34:8). The sages understand this not merely as poetic language but an exhortation to experience G-d in a way that's palpable, almost sensory.
UNDERSTANDING DIVINE LOVE
The Torah’s directive in Deuteronomy is unambiguous: "And you shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:5). Rashi, commenting on this, asks why the verse specifies "with all your heart" and explains that it refers to serving G-d with both our inclinations – the good and the evil, suggesting a totality in our devotion.
The Talmud, in Berachot 54a, explores the experiential aspect of spirituality. When discussing individuals who witness places of past miracles, it notes: "One who sees the place... recites a blessing." This is not mere formality but an outpouring of deep, visceral emotion. The act of reciting a blessing becomes the channel for an overwhelming sensation of gratitude and awe.
THE REVERENCE OF THE DIVINE
Yet, love is just one facet of our divine relationship. We are also called to revere G-d. Deuteronomy 10:20 implores: "You shall fear the Lord your G-d." This is not about dread but about a profound sense of respect and awe.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi delves into this in the Tanya. He articulates the concept of reverence: "True fear... is his realization of G‑d’s true greatness." It's an awe that springs from comprehending the vastness of G-d and our humble place within His creation.
The Midrash (Bereshit Rabbah 21:6) expounds upon Abraham's experience with G-d, noting: "Abraham loved Him as one loves the place from which good emanates for him." And yet, Abraham's relationship was not just love; it was bound with profound awe.
LOVE AS ACTION
Emotion must find expression. The Rambam, in Hilchot Teshuvah 10:3, elucidates: "The love of G‑d... propels the individual to pursue the commandments with passion." This is love that doesn't remain in the heart; it spills over into every action, every deed.
Rabbi Akiva, in the Midrash, poetically describes this love, likening the soul to a bird and the mitzvot as wings: "Just as a bird cannot fly without wings, so too a Jew cannot fathom life without the mitzvot."
Our journey through life's spiritual landscape is marked by tangible actions and profound feelings. But it's where these intersect, as the Hayom Yom reminds us, that we find the heart of our connection with the Divine. Like the tefillin that rests on our arms and foreheads, our love and awe for G-d should be ever-present, guiding us in every moment, with every heartbeat.