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What does it mean to "love G-d with all your heart, soul and means"?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

"And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your means." - Deuteronomy 5:6

As with every word in the Torah, these words of the Shema which we recite twice daily have many explanations. Here is Rashi’s commentary on the verse (culled from Midrashic sources):

With all your heart”:

[The double “Bet” in the word levaevcha, instead of the usual form of this word, lebecha, which contains one “Bet”, suggests:] Love Him with your two inclinations [the good and the evil]. Another explanation; “with all your heart,” is that your heart should not be divided [i.e., at variance] with the Omnipresent.

And with all your soul”:

Even if He takes your soul [life].

And with all your means

Deeper meditation leads one to recognize that the life of a finite mortal is completely insignificant in comparison to the greatness of G-d
With all your possessions. There are people whose possessions are more precious to them than their own bodies. Therefore, it says, “and with all your means.”

Chassidic teachings – as always – add a deeper interpretation:

With all your heart”:

This refers to a love for G-d which stems from a person’s understanding that all he has, including his very life itself, is a gift from G-d. Just as a person “loves” life, and would do anything to preserve his life, so, too, a person should love the One who grants him life, health, prosperity, etc. This love is predicated on one’s own desire for life; on one’s own self-importance.

And with all your soul”:

Deeper meditation leads one to recognize that the life of a finite mortal is completely insignificant in comparison to the greatness of G-d. This, a moment of connection with G-d is infinitely more significant, meaningful and precious than a lifetime of physical luxury and bliss. This love leads one to willingly sacrifice his life for the sanctification of G-d’s holy name.

And with all your means

In the previous level of love the person is still seeking something “significant, meaningful and precious” – but has the insight to understand that this can be found only through connection to G-d. The ultimate level of love, however, is where the person has no ulterior motive whatsoever. The Jew loves G-d because His soul is a burning coal of love for its Creator. He does mitzvahs not for the physical or spiritual gain—but because this is the desire of his beloved G-d.



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