Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ahavat Hashem

On Shabbos I was discussing the mitzva of ahavat hashem with DE. He had a very interesting insight into the Rambam's mashal in the last chapter of Hilchot Teshuva.
וכיצד היא האהבה הראויה: הוא שיאהוב את ה' אהבה גדולה יתרה רבה, עזה עד מאוד, עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת ה', ונמצא שוגה בה תמיד--כאלו חולי האהבה, שאין דעתם פנויה מאהבת אותה אישה שהוא שוגה בה תמיד, בין בשוכבו בין בקומו, בין בשעה שהוא אוכל ושותה. יתר מזה תהיה אהבת ה' בלב אוהביו, ושוגים בה תמיד, כמו שציוונו, "בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך" (דברים ו,ה; דברים י,יב; דברים ל,ו). והוא ששלמה אומר דרך משל, "כי חולת אהבה, אני" (שיר השירים ב,ה); וכל שיר השירים משל הוא לעניין זה.

There the Rambam compares the absolute preoccupation that the ohev hashem has with his ahava to the preoccupation a love sick man has for his beloved woman. DE wanted to extend the implication of this mashal and said that when one falls in love with a woman it is a singular experience. There are no emotions that one can compare that experience to. For the love-sick man the beloved is the fulfillment of deeply rooted psychological needs and yearnings; the experience of love is all consuming and singular. So to, the ahava that one has for Hashem is singular; there is no experience one can compare it to but for a different reason - the love of Hashem is not the fulfillment of a bodily/psychological need it is the fulfillment and actualization of the nefesh. The ahava experience is in the psyche - "בלב אוהביו" - but on account of its radically different object the experience is quantitatively greater - "יתר מזה" - than the love of a woman.

At the end of the fourth chapter of Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah the Rambam says:
בזמן שאדם מתבונן בדברים אלו, ומכיר כל הברואים ממלאך וגלגל ואדם וכיוצא בו, ויראה חכמתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא בכל היצורים וכל הברואים--מוסיף אהבה למקום, ותצמא נפשו ויכמה בשרו לאהוב המקום ברוך הוא; ויירא ויפחד משפלותו ודלותו וקלותו, כשיערוך עצמו לאחד מהגופות הקדושים הגדולים, וכל שכן לאחד מהצורות הטהורות הנפרדות מן הגלמים, שלא נתחברו בגולם כלל. וימצא עצמו, שהוא ככלי מלא בושה וכלימה, ריק וחסר
.
What does it mean to be macir all the creations and see chakhmato in all of them? The mashal would be to an orchestra. When one hears a beautiful symphonic movement one does not assume it occurred by happenstance, at first one is impressed by the great skill of the musicians but then one realizes that the real praise goes to the conductor. Without the conductor's masterful orchestration, no matter how skilled the musicians, the result will only be cacophonous. Hashem's creation is not composed of individuals, but of a vast array of systems that all function harmoniously together. To be macir the creations is to see the beautiful function of each system (the sections of musicians: violins, cellos, violas, bases). To see chakhmato in all of them is to apprehend the beautiful orchestration and the chakhma of the great Conductor (Hashem Tz'vakot, M'lo Khol HaAretz K'vodo)

This kind of knowledge is more that of the generalist than the specialist. It does not seem that one would need advanced degrees in physics to have this kind of knowledge. It does imply a kind of approach to studying creation which is not common but was beautifuly described by Einstein:
But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation...His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages. ("The Religiousness of Science", The World As I See It, The Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1934, p.29)

It sounds like Einstein was reading the Rambam.

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