8 Tishrei 5781 / Saturday, September 26, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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Love for Love    

Love for Love

The greatest act of love is doing one's utmost to please the one you love with no ulterior motive other than pleasing your beloved...


Mark was an unhappy little boy. One by one, his friends celebrated their birthdays. He pined with envy as each of his second-grader peers reached the milestone of their seventh birthday, prince for a day as the center of attention in class and the recipient of so many gifts.
An orphan, Mark did not know his birthday. He knew nothing of his real parents or their background. Sure, his foster parents were amenable, but it just wasn't the same as having your own roots, identity and birthday.
Few things are more tragic than an entire nation of Marks - people with no past, no roots and no identity. A plant cannot grow, let alone thrive, without roots.
We, the Jewish People, are not a nation of orphans, thank G-d. We have the richest past and the deepest roots of any nation on earth. And, we know our national birthday: it's the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, the festival of Shavuot. This year on Shavuot (6 Sivan, 5774 / June 4, 2014), we will be exactly 3326 years old. How do we know? The Torah declares, “Today you have become a nation to Hashem, your G-d” (Deuteronomy 27:9). There are those who have never recognized us as a nation. Yet, we don't need their recognition. We are not a regular nation, for we are a nation to Hashem, our G-d. As His nation, we have been awarded with His characteristic of timeliness. Many great nations and civilizations have come and gone, but we're still here. Our secret to survival is the Torah, for we became a nation on the very day that Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish People on Mount Sinai on the sixth day of Sivan, 2448.
The sixth day of Sivan, 2448, is a pivotal day in global history. Even though the laws of nature remained intact since the Six Days of Creation, once the light of Torah descended to this lowly earth, mankind would be uplifted to a higher moral plane by the select few who word observe the commandments of the Torah. The acceptance and observance of Torah are what makes the Jews the “chosen people”. Hashem chose us because of our ancestors' total and unconditional willingness to put our brains and our egos aside, and to put all of our faith and trust in Divine wisdom. Our people's level of voluntary submission to Hashem has never been equalled. This is the “love for love” that fueled Hashem's love for the nation that He made His chosen people.

The greatest act of love is doing one's utmost to please the one you love with no expectations in return. This is the way our sages and spiritual leaders throughout history have served Hashem. This is the level known as l'shem shamayim, doing something for Hashem's sake and not for any ulterior motive.
We can now understand why we read the book of Ruth on Shavuot. Ruth had nothing to gain from her mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi was impoverished, homeless and about to return empty-handed and widowed to her people and homeland. Ruth clung to Naomi and to Naomi's G-d, simply because she loved both. Ruth's upright and altruistic nature entitled her to become the great grandmother of the King of Israel and the Messianic Dynasty.
In light of the above, our "love for love" acceptance and observance of Torah as well as our unconditional submission to Hashem's will both maintain our status as the Chosen People and enable us to weather all of history's challenges for posterity. History blinks its eyes, and the great and mighty vanish from the face of the earth one by one. Yet year after year on Shavuot, the Jewish People celebrate another birthday and renew our everlasting bond to Torah.
Our national survival depends on one thing – Torah, and the degree that we bind ourselves to Torah. Any dilution of our connection and commitment to Torah is a weakening of the very foundation of our existence.
Hashem doesn't love us because of our achievements in high tech or medicine. Hashem doesn't love us because we have such an advanced army. Even though we're a mere 0.2% of the world's population, the number of Jewish Nobel Prize winners is more than 100 times more than our proportion; still, that's not why Hashem loves us. He loves us because our ancestors on Mount Sinai declared naaseh venishma, we shall unconditionally do Hashem's will before we discover why (see Exodus 24:7). He continues to love us because we continue to give love for love, doing Hashem's will and clinging to the Torah unconditionally, despite huge opposition from our enemies without and and from the militant assimilationist camp from within, whose express desire is to become a nation like any other nation. Mark my words, that won't happen. The Jewish People exist by virtue of the Torah. As long as the light of Torah shines in our camp, we shall continue to shine, to thrive, and to truly be light unto the nations. Happy Shavuot!

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