Parshat Nitzavim: God’s love as our true identity

Why do we have to love God? The answer is a matter of identity, meaning that it is more about us than about Him. After all, we are unable to conceive Him, understand Him or comprehend Him. Hence whatever we conceive and comprehend about the Creator is what attaches us to Him. It quite sounds as a common sense approach, and that is exactly what it is.

The more we know who we are and understand what we are, have and do, the more we are able to know Him because in our true essence we indeed know Him due to the fact that we are His creation. If we come from Him, what else can we be but His essence! Yes, there are issues related to good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, free will stuff that actually enables us to discern what we may be.

Our choices may not entirely define who we are, but what we think, believe, feel and do indeed define us. This is the context of the following verses.

“For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” Rather, [this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

Can we hide our true essence and identity from ourselves? Only if we give power to such illusion! Situations and circumstances sometimes lead us to believe negative traits and qualities about ourselves, and again we must ponder if our actions define who we truly are. This also can turn into a matter of choice between living in negative illusions or in the positive reality that love is.

Love is not concealed or far way because love is who we are. We just have to be aware of this divine gift we enjoy by being, experiencing, doing, manifesting its ways and attributes.

“Inasmuch as I command you this day to love the Lord, your God, to walk in His ways, and to observe His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, so that you will live and increase, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the Land to which you are coming to take possession of it.” (30:16)

Loving God is the way to become aware of our own identity, our purpose in life. The blessings of love are not just a divine promise but their own effect.

“And the Lord, your God, will bring you to the Land which your forefathers possessed, and you [too] will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers.” (30:5)

We may wonder why Moses says that God’s blessings “do good” to us if it is quite obvious that such is always the case. Why it is primordial to emphasize that over and over again? The answer is the same indicated above as a reminder to embrace all that make us grow, develop, improve, and be happy, fruitful, abundant, prosperous, and all the attributes that only Love can give, that which will make us “more numerous” than the ones who forged the legacy of God’s Love as our true identity.

How great or big could ever be the goodness that Love brings to us? Can we really quantify it? No wonder the sand of the seas and the stars in the sky are only a pale illustration of it; because, as the essence that created us, love is endless. In the awareness of this essence in all levels of consciousness, we stand up before our Creator (29:9-10) to reclaim and reaffirm love as our common bond with Him.

“(…) that you may enter the covenant of the Lord, your God, and His oath, which the Lord, your God, is making with you this day.” (29:11)

Let’s bear in mind that both our spiritual and material awareness are the dimensions for which we are accountable for the choices we make.

“This day, I call upon the heavens and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” (30:19)

Hence we realize the well known results of either choice.

The Prophet reminds us that Zion and Jerusalem represent this sublime awareness of God’s love as the identity we have to claim out loud, confronting and overcoming the material illusions that keep us in the dark, because His love is our redeemer.

“For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest, until her righteousness comes out like brilliance, and her Redemption burns like a torch.” (Isaiah 62:1)

“The acts of loving kindness of the Lord I will mention, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord bestowed upon us, and lots of goodness to the house of Israel, which He bestowed upon them according to His compassion and according to His many acts of loving kindness.” (63:7)

Because the goodness of the Creator is also the goodness of love.

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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