Love of God & Truth

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

One who serves [God] out of love occupies himself in the Torah and the mitzvot and walks in the paths of wisdom for no ulterior motive: not because of fear that evil will occur, nor in order to acquire benefit. Rather, he does what is true because it is true, and ultimately, good will come because of it. This is a very high level which is not merited by every wise man. It is the level of our Patriarch, Abraham, whom God described as, "he who loved Me," for his service was only motivated by love. God commanded us [to seek] this rung [of service] as conveyed by Moses as [Deuteronomy 6:5] states: "Love God, your Lord.'' When a man will love God in the proper manner, he will immediately perform all of the mitzvot motivated by love (Maimonides’ Laws of Repentance 10:2).

“He does what is true because it is true”

Man eats to remove the pain of hunger. Man builds a house to shelter from the elements. Man exercises to extend his longevity. But here, when one performs what is true for its value as truth, Maimonides says there is no motive. Here, man diverges from all his other actions. On this level, man desires nothing additional. How can a man function without motive, and why is this of such a great value?

When man performs X as it results in his true desire for Y, X is not valued inherently, but only as a means.  Man does not view Y as an inherent value. But when one engages in Z without other motivations, man expresses inherent value for Z itself. Therefore, when man pursues the truth for itself, he demonstrates the lofty capacity of “valuing” on the highest level. Here, man expresses his ultimate perfection in following his mind, as he pursues what is inherently good. There is no higher level; there is no greater enjoyment. 

“This is a very high level which is not merited by every wise man”

This means that wisdom contributes this level. But what determines which wise man reaches this level? Are there matters that enable him to reach this level, and restrict others from such lofty heights?

Initially, man is tempted by his infantile desires. Without reflection and assessing what is true and also what is good, man remains compelled to satisfy his instinctual drives his entire life. But the intelligent person questions everything and studies his human design, recognizing the intellect as his crowning faculty. He only satisfies his desires as needed for his simple physical existence, any greater involvement in the instance distracts his true pursuit of wisdom. His energies and his primary focus are focused on curiosity. He witnesses a physical universe with numerous harmonious laws, pointing to a divine plan. Then he understands the physical existence is to serve his pursuit of wisdom, as he sees no other creature with intellectual capacity. This teaches man it is God's will that he use this unique capacity. He is completely impressed by what God created, and wonders what God is. 

Rare individuals, such as Abraham attained this level of questing greater and greater truths and love of God due to their intellectual capacity, and their sustained preoccupation and captivation with creation, and God's will. Nature and nurture. Maimonides said that God made Moses [1]. Pirkei Avos says God has 5 acquisitions in the world, and Abraham is one of them [2]. Talmud says one’s capacity of wisdom is divinely determined [3]. These three statements indicate God’s rare design of highly gifted men, leaders placed on Earth in precise generations who would direct mankind when needed. However, we cannot excuse ourselves from toiling in Torah, assuming that we are not of the capacity to attain their level. For this level can only be judged once we have expended all our efforts our whole lives. Maimonides said that everybody can reach the level of Moses [4]. This means every person can actualize his potential, not that he can attain Moses’ level. The rabbis say, “A person is obligated to say, ‘When will my actions reach the level of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?’”[5]  So, we each must strive to attain our potential and not assume we are of lower caliber without first determining this through toiling in Torah. 

Reaching the state where we do the truth for itself, means man’s innate design has this potential that can be realized through nature and nurture. As nurture alone is given to your control, you must focus your life on wisdom and you will find this greatest satisfaction of loving truth for itself, and loving God as the source of all truth. God designed us to be most excited when experiencing our wisdom, exploring and uncovering greater truths for the exciting knowledge itself. That is serving God out of love of the truth itself. 

All pursuits should have the motivation to engage in wisdom as far as possible. That’s action with ulterior motivation. But when engaged in wisdom, there is no other motivation. That is human perfection and happiness.

[1] Laws of Star Worship 1:3

[2] Ethics 6:10

[3] Talmud Niddah 16b

[4] Laws of Repentance 5:2

[5] Maaseh Rokeach on Laws of Repentance 5:2