על זאת שבחו אהובים ורוממו א-ל, ונתנו ידידים זמרות שירות ותשבחות, ברכות והודאות
For this, the beloved praised and exalted Hashem, the dear ones offered hymns, songs, praises, blessings, and thanksgivings…
What specifically are we praising Hashem for, and what connection is there between our being called “ahuvim–beloved” and the ensuing praise and thanks we offer to Hashem? Hashem could have taken us out of Mitzrayim with much less fanfare and many fewer miracles.
The answer is that through the many miracles and wonders that Hashem did perform for us during the course of our salvation, He demonstrated His love for us. Hashem changed the natural orders of the world in order to make known and publicize that we are His beloved. [Tefilas Avigdor]
Klal Yisrael felt the overwhelming love of Hashem through all the miracles and wonders, and therefore praised and thanked Him not just for the miracles and wonders but primarily for the extraordinary love He showed to us. That is the reason we say “שבחו אהובים–shibchu ahuvim (the beloved praised).” [Rinas Chaim and Tefilas Avigdor]
Integrating Mitzvos into Our Daily Lives
Although we have previously written about Hashem’s love for the Jewish people, it is so crucially important that we take the opportunity now to add to what has previously been written.
I recently heard a true story of a young yeshivah man who fell to temptations. He slowly drifted away from learning and then drifted away from mitzvos. The father then discovered that he was listening to a preacher regularly online. When asked about it, he told the rav who spoke with him that this had nothing to do with emunah. He said, “I have been in yeshivah for many years and not once have I ever heard anyone tell me that Hashem loves me – and I certainly have never heard anyone tell me how much Hashem loves me even when I falter and struggle. This is why I listen each night. I want to hear how G-d loves me. I need to hear that and I wasn’t hearing it elsewhere.
This is not a commentary on any yeshivah or any “system.” It is simply something that is unfortunately not stressed enough, in general, in many segments of klal Yisrael. Baruch Hashem, we have made such amazing strides in so many areas of Torah. However, with the exception of precious too few segments of klal Yisrael, we need to work on feeling Hashem’s love and on bringing more passion and love into our avodas Hashem.
In order for us to learn Torah, daven, and perform mitzvos with love and passion, we must spend time contemplating and internalizing the great love Hashem has for us. The more we feel the great love Hashem has for us, the more we will reciprocate with feelings of love.
One way we can begin to work on feeling Hashem’s love is by spending a few extra seconds saying parts of tefilah like our phrase this week and the brachah of Ahavah Rabah/Ahavas Olam, slowly with feeling. Let the words penetrate our hearts. Someone told me recently that a rosh yeshivah spoke once at a well-known shul in Baltimore. All had heard that he was an amazing speaker and were looking forward to his drashah. He got up and slowly, deliberately, and with great heart and passion, simply said the brachah of Ahavah Rabah – from start to finish. Nothing added. Not a word. My friend, who was present, said it was a most amazing experience and no drashah could have inspired the tzibur more.
I was present a number of years ago in this same shul – on Shavuos morning for Shacharis after a night of learning. I myself saw how a few hundred men, primarily baalei-batim, said this tefilah with such passion and great emotion, with their full heart and tears in their eyes. We say it every day. Maybe we can’t access this level in a daily minyan. Maybe we can’t even access it completely on a Shabbos – but we can certainly partially access it. Let us make an effort.
If anyone would like the series we did on this brachah, kindly email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a PDF of “Ahavah Rabah/Ahavas Olam.”