“Do out of love. Do out of fear”: A measure of pragmatism

Some people worship God because they fear the consequences of disobedience. We commonly see that even one who rejects a government will still abide by its laws.

Others pine for a true devoutness to God never feeling that they achieved it. But there are yet others that are convinced that their worship of God is the product of complete devoutness.

Intuitively, one would think that a person should always strive to worship God out of devoutness rather than out of fear of punishment. But is this the true mode of worship that a person should have?

The Talmud of the Land of Israel advises: “Do out of Love. Do out of fear”. On the one hand a person should strive to worship God out of Love, but on the other,  one should always worship God with some measure of fear.

If you lapse in your Love for God, your fear of God will act as a fail-safe. This is also true contrarily. In either case you will still observe God’s commandments.

The lesson that the Talmud of the Land of Israel teaches us is that  a measure of pragmatism must always be factored in when dealing with human nature.

 A person can never be assumed to be completely in touch with his inner-self and can never be absolutely sure of his true disposition at any given moment. Therefore, only the right combination of love and fear of God can ensure an unfailing observance of God’s commandments!

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About the Author
Rabbi Michael Linetsky has published a number of works, some of which receiving approbations from scholars such as Nahum Sarna, David Weiss Halivni, the late Lord Emanuel Jacobovits and Dr. Norman Lamm.
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