Intentions are important. One act can be defined as either of two opposite extremes depending on who performed the act and their intentions. Intent is the gateway into the soul of an action, an intimate look at the palette of colors that paints the whole picture — everything from its frame and context to its message and details. Throughout our lives, we dance in tango with God: Hashem. From our failure to our fortune, the one constant is Hashem, either receiving blame or praise but, nevertheless, relevant. In terms of God’s “intentions,” if you will, what we believe about Him can, as Rabbi David Aaron often says, “make or break your faith.”
When we are experiencing immense success, do we wonder why we have it? When life hits a standstill, what does it mean to us? When everything greets a darker shade, who do we blame? Regardless of the situation, we always face questions that beg for greater understanding. It’s an affirmation that Hashem has a role to play in what happens around us, to us, and through us. As such, Rav Aaron’s idea gains greater footing. In Parshat V’zot HaBracha, the last in the Torah, we seem to get an answer to our earlier question.
As Moshe Rabbeinu delivers his last words, he characterizes Hashem in a striking fashion: “Indeed,” he says, “Lover of people” (Devarim 33:3). Rashi clarifies that in this context, “people” refers to the different shevatim (tribes) of Bnei Yisrael. Of course, though, Hashem loves all people, as Pirkei Avot states explicitly: “Beloved is man for he was created in the image [of God]” (3:14). Simply put, Hashem is a God of love — nothing more and nothing less.
Everything in life comes from Hashem, “the God who loves me,” as Dovid HaMelech puts it in Tehillim (59:18). The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful all emanate from Hashem. His intentions, as mentioned earlier, are motivated solely by the deepest, most profound love: a Godly love.
In general, when we speak of love, we usually imagine the typical model. It is one of unbound giving, support, and devotion in a wholly comfortable and clear manner. Messages and gifts sent neatly wrapped with tightened ribbons are warmly received, and this idyllic form of love is, in many ways, naïve. Love does not always take form in the good and the beautiful. Often, it takes another one, perceived to be bad and ugly and, frankly, not love at all. This is the “tough love,” the love people don’t want, but it’s also the one everyone needs. This love is saying “no” when you want a “yes” because the “yes” you want is not in your best interest. This love is the one that sees a blindfolded you approaching the cliff of reality, and while you feel like you’re being brutally restrained, you’re actually being lovingly restrained.
Mei HaShiloach makes this comment on the Torah’s choice of word for love, chovev. He says it signals both types of love, namely the deeper, more difficult one mentioned above. That is how much Hashem loves us. He loves us so greatly that He’s willing to risk sacrificing being loved by us, as we may misperceive His actions, at the expense of loving us. “For whom Hashem loves, He rebukes,” Shlomo HaMelech says (Mishlei 3:12).
It seems fitting that Moshe reminds Bnei Yisrael about Who is truly their God. As he prepares to leave them, in his last moments, he impresses this simple but vital message: Hashem loves people. Everything He does, and everything happening to you, are coming from the God of love.