Monday, April 28, 2008

Love, and Imitating Gd


"To no other being but man did Gd give the eyes to discern Him and to recognize Him. But the purpose of this recognition should be to imitate Him in action, for Gd created you in His image.

"And just as the one aspect of Gd which you can behold everywhere and always is His activity, and this activity is nothing but love - the birth of creation is love, the existence of every creature is love, the maintenance of the world is love, its ordering and advancement is love, love for the whole, for every individual, for you - so let the goal of your striving after Gd be love, love in deed and action with every power that is in you, in every moment of your existence, in order that you may become a blessing in your own circle, in whatever way and whatever place you can."

(R' Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, Horeb, paragraph 481)

Have a great day,


  1. This is a very important message--that we should strive to imitate G-d's attributes. However, does Reb Hirsch explain how "bad things happen to good people"? I can understand G-d's love helping a child and her family cope with chemotherapy, but how and why did that little girl get that way in the first place?

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for your comment.

    R' Hirsch, like pretty much every other Jewish philosopher of the past few thousand years, does wrestle with the problem - and his comments don't fit the soundbite forum of a daily email, but I do recommend reading at length in Horeb.

    In general: Scholars and sages have taken different lessons from the passages of Tanach, over the centuries, to understand and address the problem you point out. Some have concluded that Gd established a natural cycle in which people - all people - will suffer in different ways, because these are the challenges Gd wants us to face. Others have seen family or national punishment in the suffering of individuals. Others have understood this to be a sign of reincarnation, and reward/punishment across a series of lives. And so on.

    What R' Hirsch is presenting here, though, is a bedrock assertion that however one understands Divine conduct, it should be taken as a product of love. Not an easy assertion for us to absorb, but very consistent with the breadth of Jewish tradition.