All Your Heart and Soul

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky, for "The Chumash of the Lubavitcher Rebbe"


"You shall return to G-d, your G-d…with all your heart and all your soul." (Deut. 30:2)

Thus, we are called to perform the commandment of teshuva (repentance) with all our heart and soul. In contrast, we are commanded to love G-d not only with all our heart and soul, but with "all your might" (Deut. 6:5), implying a love that transcends our normal emotive powers. Why does this difference exist between these two seemingly similar commandments?

"Love" is, of course, an emotion. The Torah asks that our love for G-d not only be a function of our heart and soul, but that it draw on the unlimited sources of connection to G-d that emanate from a more essential place in our divine consciousness. This is referred to as "all your might", the realm where deeply rooted love for G-d exists.

"Return", on the other hand, is in its essence an act of going beyond oneself. The individual's normal, operative self is what put him in his present predicament of having sinned and needing to return. He therefore needs to transcend this self and seek a deeper, more essential layer of his identity where G-d means more to him than the indulgences to which he has become accustomed. Once found, this transcendent consciousness must be made his normative consciousness.

Thus, while the Torah bids us to increase our love of G-d from normal to transcendent, it bids us to return to G-d by making our transcendent relationship with him into our normal one.

Copyright 2001 chabad of california / www.lachumash.org

Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, writer, editor and anthologist. Originally from Los Angeles, he moved to Israel in 1977, and currently lives in Jerusalem. While living in Tsfat, he was one of the three founders of ASCENT in 1983.


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