Love With All Your Heart

Rabbi Jeffrey Adler, M.Div. TLV Scholars 1 Comment

Love is a popular topic for discussion these days. Our culture, particularly the religious culture, talks about it all the time. Generally, the mainstream sees love as acceptance of everyone and his quirks, even if those quirks and lifestyles run counter to ADONAI and every principle of His Kingdom. People commonly express that they love God, but, how does He see it? How does He define love for Him? What pleases Him? This is vital information, since He makes the rules and we will all ultimately be accountable to Him before the bar of His judgement and justice.

For a helpful insight into this important subject, it is helpful to look at the “V’ahavta”, the passage found in D’varim, or Deuteronomy, 6:5f. This passage, recited regularly with verse 4, the Sh’ma, tells us that it is not enough merely to believe that there is one God. We are also called to have a personal, emotional, connection to Him. “V’ahavta et-Adonai Eloheyka…”; “And,you shall love the Lord your God…” The form of “ahav”, “love”, is in the perfect tense used in a “jussive” sense, seeing the action of the verb as very decisive and strong.

So many times, Biblical faith is described as adherence to rules and regulations. While obedience is obviously valuable and not to be minimized, ADONAI created us for much more. “Let us make Man in our image”. That legacy calls for esteem for the One after Whom we are modeled. Throughout Scripture, the Lord refer to Himself as our Father. That relationship is couched in “Honor your father and mother.” Their is a powerful emotional bond created by giving that kind of weight to that role in one’s life.

The text further describes the quality and extent of that love. The call for love is to be with “kol levavka”, “with all your heart”. The heart scriptural is understood to be the seat of the emotions. There needs to be passion for Elohim.  As children of God, we are His heirs, His family. What concerns Him concerns us. His well-being is also ours. What bothers Him bothers us. His interests are ours, whether we realize it or not.

Verse 5 goes on to state that this love is to be with “kol naphsh’ka”, “with all your soul”. The soul is at the core of each person’s identity. Each of us is a unique, special, creation. In Jeremiah 1:5, ADONAI tells the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…” The verb, “yada” connotes intimacy. The form used here, “y’datika” implies the intensity of the perfect tense. Jeremiah was a special creation into whom God put an infinity of personal thought and intent. Extrapolating this to all of us, we  have much personal style to invest into our relationship with El Elyon,  God Most High, our Father.

Further, we are told that we need to love the Lord our God with “kol m’odeka”, with “all your strength”. Our relationship is not a casual thing confined to religious services or 9:00-5:00, but, calling for total investment of ourselves into Him. We give all of us to all of Him.

Jeremiah 17:9 describes the human heart as “deceitful above all things, and incurable- who can know it?” However, chapter 31 says, in verse 33, that the Lord is able and willing to put His Torah within us and write it on our hearts. We have sinned because we haven’t loved God, but, He is able to change us, and draw us into a right relationship with Him. Due to the work of  Yeshua‘s atonement and the transformational power of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit), we can, for the first time, become real and pleasing “lovers of God”.

About the Author
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler, M.Div.

Rabbi Jeffrey Adler, M.Div.

Rabbi Jeffrey A. Adler comes from a family with five generations of Messianic Jews. A native of Cincinnati, he has a Master of Divinity degree and has led Messianic synagogues in Cincinnati and Indianapolis since 1978. He is currently Rabbi of Congregation Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis.

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    Thanks Rabboni- good commentary- MLK gave us a bit more below while speaking of resistance to hate- we are to love others in a self-sacrificial way- the Greek renders it AGAPE LOVE–

    “…at the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.

    Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object… Agape is disinterested love. It is a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed toward both. If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.

    Another basic point about agape is that it springs from the need of the other person — his need for belonging to the best in the human family… Since the white man’s personality is greatly distorted by segregation, and his soul is greatly scarred, he needs the love of the Negro. The Negro must love the white man, because the white man needs his love to remove his tensions, insecurities, and fears.

    Agape is not a weak, passive love. It is love in action… Agape is a willingness to go to any length to restore community… It is a willingness to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven to restore community…. If I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only close the gap in broken community by meeting hate with love.”

    The above was taken from–

    An Experiment in Love: Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Six Pillars of Nonviolent Resistance and the Ancient Greek Notion of ‘Agape’

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