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    Love Me, love My commandment – Va’et’channan

    A key feature of the sidra is the first paragraph of the Shema, with its command, “You shall love the Lord your God”.

    Rashi asks the question, how does a human being love God? And he answers, perform His commandments out of love. When you do His will lovingly, you are loving the Giver of the commandment.

    Very interesting. There is sometimes a temptation to carry out a commandment perfunctorily, without joy, enthusiasm, feeling or concentration. It’s a burden, a nuisance, and you’d rather not be doing it at all. Yet a different attitude makes all the difference.

    Give the commandment a chance to speak to you, to fascinate you, to become part of your being, and you find it is creating a spiritual experience. It is indeed a mystical moment.

    The American thinker Max Kadushin makes a similar point when he speaks of “normal mysticism”.

    How does a Jew become a mystic? The answer is that most don’t and can’t. Practical people do not often, if at all, have flights of mystical experience.

    In Kabbalah, great importance is attached to kavvanah, concentration on the mitzvah one is doing; Kadushin says the word means “appreciation of the esoteric significance or religious acts”.

    Make a b’rachah, and at that moment you are transported to a plane of mysticism. It is normal mysticism, mysticism within normal living.

    Kadushin says, “The rabbinic experience of God was normal mysticism because it was a factor in the normal valuational life” (“Organic Thinking”, 1938, pages 321, 238).

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