Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Love and Fear

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Sotah 31a) cites a braisa: Rabbi Meir noted that the verse describes both Iyov and Avraham as “G-d fearing.” He therefore derives that just as we know Avraham served Hashem out of love, so too, Iyov served Hashem out of love. How do we know that Avraham served Hashem out of love? This is evident from the verse, “The offspring of Avraham who loved Me.”

The Stepler Gaon in Birchas Peretz notes that by “Akeidas Yitzchak,” it is written: For now I know that you are fearing of God. It would seem that Avraham performed the binding of Yitzchak out of fear of Hashem; yet we know definitely that he performed this commandment out of love for Hashem. This is clearly evident from the Gemora in Sanhedrin (105b), which states: Love disregards the rule of dignified conduct. This is derived from Avraham, for it is written, And Avraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his donkey. Our Gemora is a proof to this as well. If so, why does the Torah at the end of this portion point out that Avraham was a God-fearing man?

He explains that the “fear” mentioned in reference to Avraham Avinu was not merely a fear of retribution, but rather it was a “yiras ha’romemus,” a fright on account of the realization of the unlimited Greatness and Strength of the Omnipresent. The Rambam writes that one who analyzes the Greatness of the Ribbono shel Olam, leads him to love Him. The love that Avraham Avinu had towards Hashem inspired him to fear Him, for through the love, he realized that if he should make a mistake in his service to Hashem, it will weaken the connection of love that existed between them.