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Count the Omer. 49 transformative steps

Counting the Omer with Rabbi Marsha Plumb

Day 30 — Loving God

Oheiv et HaMakom • אוהב את המקום

By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman, Monsey, NY

Rabbi Marcia Plumb, Needham, MA
Rabbi Marcia Plumb, Needham, MA

G-d’s being not only extends from the outer-most to the inner-most reaches of all  reality, it also infuses and encompasses it all. As such, He’s the “floor” of all being, its “walls”, its “air”, and its “ceiling”. But G-d’s presence also transcends all of that since it’s He who not only created reality (which is impressive enough, I grant you), but He also thought of creating it before any of it came about! So, how could any one of us ever hope to love G-d as we’re asked to?

Now, up to a certain point, two fundamental emotions had defined my life; the need to alternately embrace and avoid G-d. And that conflict started with my very first breath, when I needed to avoid Him so as to have a life of my own. It went on from there to my second breath when I needed to embrace Him to get by in that life.

How could one ever love G-d and have a life of one’s own without fainting again and again in His Divine presence? It eventually occurred to me that it comes to this.

Suppose you and I were in love and were having a fully engaged conversation. We’d cozy up to each other, face each other head-on, nod in agreement time and again, and grow in our love at the same time. Then suppose one of us strongly disagreed with the other, and we suddenly became rather disconnected. Whereas we’d be deeply concerned that our love was becoming threatened, neither one of us would have been afraid of suddenly disappearing from the face of the earth. Yet the thought of G-d suddenly disconnecting from us and losing His love for us is profoundly troublesome since it would seem to signal that He’d “zap” us away right there and then and undo us!

It occurred to me, then, that the point of the mitzvah of loving G-d is to remind us of the fact that G-d is so immense that He’s even not small -- He’s so transcendent that it wouldn’t even occur to Him to undo us just because we didn’t yet love Him enough. Thus the mitzvah of loving G-d becomes an exercise in accepting Him as He is much the way He accepts us as we are, even when we turn from Him time and again.

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