The Avudraham writes that the brachah of Ahavah Rabah / Ahavas Olam includes a number of items:
- Hashem loves us more than any nation.
- He gave us the Torah.
- We are to believe in yichud Hashem.
- He is Adon HaKol.
Perhaps we can add the following:
The brachah is loaded with bakashos for our own ruchniyus as well as davening for the ruchniyus of our children and others. This is one of the crucial places that the Chofetz Chaim advised davening for our children.
Tefilos for our children that they should be lomdei Torah, tzadikim, and baalei midos tovos should be constant and fluent in our mouths. One should always have kavanah in Ahavah Rabah that they should be lomdei Torah. [Ateres Z’keinim, quoted in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim, siman 47]
(As an aside, we should take note that just because one is a lomeid Torah does not ensure that he is a tzadik, and neither of the two traits ensures that he is a baal midos tovos. Each requires separate effort and tefilah.)
The Avudraham then adds that the close of the brachah is about our love for Hashem and His love for us, and not about yichud Hashem, because talking about yichud Hashem without love and a complete heart “lo yo’il klum (would not help at all, i.e., is completely ineffective).”
The only measure of one tzadik
versus another is how often one is aware of Hashem’s presence
in his or her life and the quality of that awareness
While there are slightly different readings between nusach Ashkenaz and nusach S’farad, it is agreed that both statements are correct. Hashem has great love for us (ahavah rabah) and His love for us is eternal (ahavas olam). The debate is only which statement is the grander statement.
Integrating Mitzvos into Our Daily Lives
Our goal, simply stated, is to fulfill our purpose in this world, which is to come closer to Hashem. One of the primary ways we come closer to Hashem is through our performance of mitzvos. Integrating the mitzvos into our day with kavanah, love, and simchah (many of which we are already performing but perhaps without kavanah or heart) will significantly increase the frequency with which we think about Hashem throughout our day, will increase the quantity of mitzvos we perform, and will increase the quality of the precious gems we send up to Hashem.
The only measure of one tzadik versus another is how often one is aware of Hashem’s presence in his or her life and the quality of that awareness (“Shivisi…”) [Sifsei Chaim – Midos 1, explaining one word added by the Vilna Gaon to a statement made by the Rama – “zeh kol maalas tzadikim”]. Our new limud will assist us in heightening our awareness of Hashem throughout our day, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Kavanah, love, fear, and simchah are the first four of 17 components of performing a mitzvah that the Sefer Chareidim lists. He quotes Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai as saying that a mitzvah performed without both fear and love is not a mitzvah at all. When it comes to simchah (inner contentment and happiness), he says we should be excessively happy that Hashem has sent us this great opportunity and gift to perform this mitzvah. Some Rishonim say that simchah is actually an independent mitzvah as well.
These four components will weigh heavily on the quality of our mitzvos. May we be zocheh to serve Hashem with kavanah, love, fear, and simchah throughout our day and throughout our lives.
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