Principle 9: Learning to love Hashem through this struggle

Part 2/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

The Baal Shem Tov also speaks a lot about how these desires are “fallen love” that really have their roots in the upper spiritual world of “Ahavah”. As is written in Parshas Lech Lecha:

Everything (in this world) is a projection of Hakadosh Baruch Hu through his attributes of love and fear, as is known. But the love is in exile, clothed in the physical, such as in a woman or in food… One should say in his heart, if I love this, which is only a ‘fallen and broken love” dressed in a putrid drop (which is where we all come from), how much more should I love the Holy one Blessed Be He!

Those who struggle with these desires can use it as a spring board to Ahavas Hashem. And when we successfully do this, we are uplifting the greatest physical desires and turning them into a great love for Hashem! This is a very high level of Divine service. We can also see this midah at play when Yaakov Avinu met his son Yosef after 22 years and, as Chazal tell us, he turned his love to Hashem by saying Kriyas Shema. We can grow in this direction if every time we feel unhealthy desires we daven to Hashem and say, “Hashem, please help me find in You what I am looking for in lust”.

The sefarim speak about how the highest desire a Jew can have is to be dovek - attached to Hashem and to the ziv of the Sh'chinah. It is actually supposed to be a ‘lust’ of some sort, as the Rambam (Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, "Laws of Repentance", 10,3) writes:

What is the proper love that we must have for G-d? It is to love G-d with an exceedingly great and intensely powerful love until the individual is constantly enraptured by it; he must be stricken like a lovesick person, whose mind is at no time free from his passion for a particular woman, with the thought of her filling his heart at all times, whether he be sitting down or rising up, whether he be eating or drinking. Even more intense should the love of G-d be in the hearts of those who love Him, and this love should constantly absorb him, as we are commanded to love the Lord "with all your heart and with all your soul." Solomon expressed this allegorically in the verse, "for I am sick with love." (Song of Songs, 2:5) Indeed, the entire Song of Songs is an allegorical description of this love.