- Love of God is a natural result of certain realizations.
- Paradoxically, the way to achieve love of Hashem is NOT to aim for loving Hashem, but to focus on certain preliminaries, out of which ahavat Hashem will NATURALLY unfold.
The preliminaries are as follows:
- Wholeheartedly acknowledge Hashem's Unity (He is One & the Source of EVERYTHING in the world).
- Wholeheartedly devote all your acts to Hashem and serve Him for His Sake alone.
(Admittedly, a very tall order.)
- Submit & humble yourself before Hashem.
- Submit & humble yourself before truly God-fearing people (who turn from bad) and Hashem's Prime Ones (who do good).
- Make an account of all the good Hashem has done for you & ponder how much You owe Him for all that.
- Take into account all the times you've messed up & sinned, and how Hashem so often grants you a reprieve and forgives you. Also, think of all the stuff you've done that you'd be so embarrassed if others found out, and how Hashem generally does not let that happen.
- Reflect on the words & experiences of the Nevi'im and others like them.
- Reflect on the wonders of the world.
4 Practical Exercises
(However, suggestions are welcome.)
Here are some suggestions for making progress with the last two:
- Write or say a gratitude list.
This idea has been repeated so often, but it is always a good idea. Then think about how Nice Hashem is for doing all that for you, and how you can never repay Him for all that, but you can at least show him some gratitude back.
(NOTE: This should not lead to despair; on the contrary, it is an uplifting idea. Think of Hashem like a pampering spoiling Parent who has done so much for you. Yes, this can be difficult if you've suffered a lot. But try your best.)
- Do a chesbon hanefesh and then think about how Nice Hashem is to you despite all the times you've let Him down.
Think of how many times you've mindlessly mumbled a bracha ("Baruch, You're God, Our God, King of the Universe, yeah, yeah whatever...oh, where was I again? Hey, does anyone remember if I bentched?"), and how Hashem still loves you so much.
He forgives you and keeps you and the rest of the world operating.
If the world ran according to din, people would get struck by lightening right after bar or bat mitzvah.
Just think about how a snipey comment or utterance of slander does NOT get one's tongue yanked out. Ears that hear lashon hara or nivul peh still work perfectly fine a moment later.
One of our generation's biggest challenges is with our eyes. Taavah, taavah everywhere...whether it's the classic taavah or turning green with envy while window shopping or visiting someone with more materialism than you, or just plain desiring more of Olam Hazeh, most people's eyes work fine. Sure, some need glasses, but nobody's eyeballs just fall out, no matter how much bad stuff they do with their eyes.
Thanks, Hashem! SO INCREDIBLY NICE OF YOU!!!
- Review your favorite stories or passages from Nevi'im and Ketuvim.
Telling them over to a child or any other enthusiastic listener is one way to relive these ancient experiences. Read them in the plain text or with mefarshim. Peruse them in the modern-day graphic book form for children.
Shoftim is chock-full of great stories. And I've always loved the stories of Eliyahu Hanavi & Elisha Hanavi. Sefer Yeshayahu is full of beautiful language and ideas. Think about what they said, their messages, and what that means for you. After all, these were all written down FOR YOU. (You can write down your thoughts or say them.)
- Think about nature & all its routine miracles.
But because we're surrounded by apples & trees, these wonders become bland in our eyes.
But just think about it what these things really are. (It also helps to listen to or read Rav Miller talking about the wonders of nature.)