Beshalach: Love as the meaning of life

One of the fundamental principles the Torah teaches, and the book of Exodus in particular, is the fact that all emanates from the Creator and is sustained by Him.

Understanding this in a deeper level means that we are His creation, and not all the way around. This also implies that in order to truly know who we are, first we have to know God.

“In all your ways know Him, and He makes your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)

The Hebrew Bible and our sages define the way to do it by what is called Judaism. This is the most important contribution to humankind since its beginnings.

Human life without a positive direction for the sake of positive effects does not make much sense. Without a true meaning there is not point, though most of us in this world live regardless true meaning or not. Life seems to be a random phenomena, and being born in a particular place and culture determine most of one’s destiny, making look “luck” as the deciding factor. Such existentialist approach ends when we find and experience a true meaning in life, and this meaning is love.

We begin to understand and to know life and its meaning when we recognize love, not ego, as the true driving force in life. This is the starting point to know the Creator, because everything — including love — comes from Him. Through the awareness of love we begin to know God’s love.

Exile under the darkness in Egypt was a negative experience from which our forefathers cried out for a true meaning in life. A valuable purpose to exist in the material world. In this context, the real point of exile and darkness is to lead us to our love as an emanation of God’s love.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to cause it to lead them on the way and at night in a pillar of fire to give them light, [they thus could] travel day and night.” (Exodus 13:21)

This verse teaches us that we exist for the sake of God’s love. Teaching and directing ego in love’s ways and attributes is not an easy task. We have learned in the Torah that the interaction between Moses (our highest knowledge of the Creator) and Pharaoh (ego) was not precisely a “piece of cake”.

Ego demands a minimum amount of control over most aspects of consciousness, and the lack of it generates conflict. We have confrontation between what is the positive right thing to think, desire, feel and experience, and ego’s fantasies and illusions that not necessarily aim for positive and enhancing purposes.

Ego voices its fears when is not in control, and only in its silence our love and God’s love can lead.

“The Lord will fight for you, but you shall remain silent.” (14:14)

Our awareness of God’s love must lead every aspect of consciousness (the children of Israel).

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the children of Israel and let them travel’.” (14:15)

God’s love also leads us when our own awareness of love also leads us. Once we fully experience the knowledge of God through His love, we realize that it has been ever since His creation.

“The Lord will reign to all eternity.” (15:18)

God is, has been, and He always will be. We assimilate this principle when we follow His ways and emulate His attributes.

“And He said, ‘If you hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His Commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I, the Lord, heal you’.” (15:26)

Hence when the awareness of love leads our consciousness, there’s no room for darkness or negativity.

Again let’s be mindful that ego must be a complementary driving force along with love, and not opponents to each other. Two of the most negative effects of ego’s feeling or belief of lack are doubt and uncertainty. In particular if we don’t believe or feel that love is the true essence and identity that sustains us since birth until death.

“He named the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarreling] because of the quarrel of the children of Israel and because of their testing the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord in our midst or not’?” (17:7)

Likewise, when love is not in our midst, what –if not love– takes over? From these verses our sages relate Amalek to doubt and uncertainty, which we must vanish from our connection and relationship with God. We must do it also in our individual and collective experience with love in the material worlf.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Inscribe this [as] a memorial in the book, and recite it into Joshua’s ears, that I will surely obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the Heavens’.” (17:14)

As we mentioned above, we are God’s creatures and we depend solely on His love. In this context we indeed live as a miracle from God.

“Then Moses built an altar, and he named it ‘the Lord is my miracle’. And he said, ‘For there is a hand on the throne of the Eternal, [that there shall be] a war for the Lord against Amalek from generation to generation.” (17:15-16)

We are always in the hands of the Creator. In the same way that His love sustains us, love also fights our wars against ego’s fantasies and illusions. We must pursue and achieve our highest knowledge of God in order to vanish doubts and uncertainties ego makes us feel with its feeling or belief of lack.

Let’s be aware that when we are fully aware of love in all levels and dimensions of consciousness, we never lack anything.

The more we live in love’s ways and attributes, the more we are close to God’s love. Our inner enemies are the negative traits and qualities that deny love as our true essence, identity and purpose in life. They disappear when we are completely aware of God’s love as the cause and effect of His creation.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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