May 8, 2023 | Spiritual

Torah as the Path of Oneness and Love

By Adir Glick

I recently went to visit a friend in France for a few days who has a serious illness. He’d been through hell. It is a sad story, but it is also an inspiring story. Through it all, he’s found and given so much love; love of his family, his wife and daughters, the friends who support him. He had a moment going through anguish when he told me that he wanted to ask and give forgiveness. Having gone to the military school, he contacted his entire military school class and asked, “Have I insulted and hurt any of you?” They responded, many he didn’t even know said, “We admired you. You were a great person.”

So much love. This is what kept him going.

The Torah is many things, basic laws of how to live and conduct ourselves in the world. A document of where we come from as Jewish people. It is also a path to living with love. When a convert famously came before Hillel, the first of rabbis with Shamai, and asked him to tell him all the Torah standing on one foot, Hillel replied “Do not do unto others what you would not have done to yourself.”

Our commentators teach it was the same statement as “Love your neighbor as yourself” in Leviticus.
Give love to others.

Give love to the stranger.

Give love to the neighbor.

Give love to your fellow Jews.

The whole Torah is a book about love and what happens when that love is absent. The love of Adam and Eve. The love of Abraham for Isaac. The love of Rebecca for Jacob and Isaac for Esau. Jacob’s love for Rachel. Jacob’s love for Jospeh. The beauty and hardship that love caused in their lives. God’s love for the Jewish people taking them out of Egypt. I have seen their suffering and I have come to lift them out.

The word for love in Hebrew ahavah is both the emotional love of people for each other. As in the book of Genesis, when Jacob falls in love with Rachel and seven years pass as in a day. But as the Torah progresses, love becomes something else, a way of being, of serving, something that must be practiced, made a habit.

In the book of Deuteronomy, ahavah appears many many times. Of all the verses that the sages could have picked to make part of our daily prayers, they picked, “Hear O Israel the Lord is Our God The Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul and all of your might.”

The Torah is also a path of giving love to the Creator and thereby all of creation. As we pray in the final prayer of the Amidah, “Bless us our Father as One in the light of Your face because in the light of Your countenance, You gave us the Torah of Life and the love of kindness.”

Our habit is to love kindness. Every mitzvah, every act, teach the Hassidim should be done with love, love of others, love of the Creator, as an offering. When we teach you should love your neighbor as yourself the Baal Shem Tov teaches, because we are all in the image of God, we share the same self.

I remember there was a moment when my daughter Shalva was young, and we were separated from each other for a few nights. I flew in to join the rest of my family. When she saw me, she ran to me, and I realized her and I are one. This is what true love is, realizing we are one with others.

Love is Divine because when we truly love we connect to the oneness of the whole universe, we suddenly feel part of everything. Everything is alive and connected to everything else and we realize this is the true fabric of life.

When the Children of Israel stood before the mountain it says in the Torah vayakhen, “he encamped”. Why doesn’t it say it in the plural, they encamped? Rashi, the French medieval commentator, teaches because they were one being with one heart. They were filled with the presence of love, and this led them to saying “yes” to the lofty mission that was given to them.

Of fixing the world, until the day God’s name is One and will be One, as we say at the end of every service.

A lofty day when the sheep and the wolf will inexplicably feel the oneness too. And the babe and the viper.

Olam chesed yibaneh, He will build a world of love.

There was one day when we were wrapped in that love. The midrash teaches the clouds on mount Sinai were the chuppah, and the Torah was the ketubah.

Everything shook and the shofar blared. To remind us of all time of the truth of the Oneness and truth of God and all of existence. All is echad, and that we reach that oneness through love. That we too can transcend everything and realize that love is at the center.

Why did God give us the Torah? Because we needed a way, concrete figures as we are, to connect to the Eternal. Every mitzvah is a pathway to that love and Oneness.

Visting my friend, I felt in the end that I received as much as I gave. I saw how all the people in the town where he lived greeted him and cared for him. He was able to find strength from his debilitating disease because of feeling connected in so many ways to so many people.

Shavuot is also there to remind us of Torah as the path to making the habit of love to return to that great awesome day.

Chag Sameach

Adir Glick


Rabbi Adir Glick began his tenure at Temple Har Zion in August, 2015.