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August 16, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Vaetchanan

This week’s Torah portion contains the Shema.  Perhaps the most puzzling part of the Shema is its command to love God.  How can one love something as mysterious and unseen as a deity?

Arama argues that although love relationships tend to be strongest among equals, there are two relevant exceptions.  First, “the love that the recipient feels for the one who endows him”- thus, the love between children and parents.  Since God is the great provider, love for God is natural.  But I don’t find this argument quite so persuasive, because of the problem of theodicy- God may provide good, but God is also responsible (directly or indirectly) for horrific evil, if not by causing it at least by allowing it to happen.

But Arama’s more interesting argument is based on the uniqueness of God.  He writes taht when one “owns a variety of artifacts, each similar in nature, it is difficult to love one of those artifacts especially, since it is not distinctive enough to evoke that special feeling of love.  When, however, the object in question is absolutely unique, the affection one feels for it can be termed love.”  In other words, we cherish God precisely because God is mysterious and unique, rather than because God is like a parent or other person.

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