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Ahavas Hashem & Addiction

GYE Corp. Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Beis Ahron of Karlin writes that we should take a reshima (a mark) of:

  • Yiras Shamayim for the whole year - from Rosh Hashana,
  • Teshuva for the whole year - from Yom Kippur,
  • Ahavas Hashem for the whole year - from Sukkos, and
  • Torah for the whole year - from Simchas Torah.

As we enter the last day of Sukkos, let's look at the idea of Ahavas Hashem. The question is asked, "How can Hashem command us to love Him? Love is something that you either have it in your heart - or you don't!"

The Belzer Rav answers with the Pasuk "Kamyim Panim el Panim..." Human nature dictates that when we feel someone else's love for us, we love them back. The way to boost our Ahavas Hashem and fulfil the Mitzva of "ve'ahavta es Hashem elokecha be'chol levavecha", is to first try and feel Hashem's love for us. That is why we say "Oheiv Amoi Yisrael" before we say Shma in Ma'ariv, and we say "Habocher be'amo Yisrael be'Ahava", right before Shma in Shacharis as well. By drilling in how much Hashem loves us, we are then able to feel love for Hashem when we say the words"ve'ahavta es Hashem elokecha be'chol levavecha" in Shema.

That is perhaps why Hakaras Hatov is such an important part of Yiddishkeit, i.e. we are always saying Brachos and thanking Hashem. We need an "Attitude of gratitude" because the more we realize the good that Hashem does for us, the more we can feel his love for us, and then naturally, we'll feel love for Him back.

In healing from an addiction, we need to develop a personal relationship with Hashem, and feel his constant love for us. Even when we sin, Hashem still loves us. As the Pasuk says, "Hashochen itam be'toch Tumosam - who dwells in their midst, within their iniquities".

For many people, this is a paradigm shift in thinking. Instead of viewing Hashem as a vengeful and distant G-d - which often leads an addict to despair, we need to start viewing Hashem as a personal and loving G-d, Who loves us even when we act crazy. This attitude shift is the underlying secret to the success of the 12-Step program. Once we have a personal and loving relationship with the "G-d of our understanding", we can truly give our lives and will over into His hands and trust Him to care for us as we let go of our addictive behaviors, one day at a time.