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The Power and the Love

The Power and the Love

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The Torah refers to G‑d as both a father and a king. In our daily prayers we consistently switch between Father and King at different points in our prayers. In Hebrew we say "Avinu, Malkeinu" - Our Father, Our King. While having my second-step experience it was imperative that I try to have a new experience with a loving G‑d. My sponsor also made it clear that I had to find out where my current agnosticism resides. My agnosticism is my alcoholism.

What I came to realize is that there are two levels of agnosticism. The Big Book of AA says that we were made clear three pertinent ideas relating to our recovery. The third idea is that although no human power can relieve us from our addiction: “G‑d can and will if He were sought” (from the original manuscript version). I believe that it is expressing two separate ideas. 1) that G‑d can, and 2) that He will. As a religious person entering the program I had no doubt of G‑d's ability and power. That G‑d can help me, I was sure of. My doubts and fears lay in the idea that G‑d will do it. Does He really love me? Is He really interested in me enough that He will do the miraculous for me?

I have to come to believe not only that G‑d can but more importantly (for me) that He will. That ties back into the concept of Our Father/Our King. Growing up as an Orthodox Jew I learned much about G‑d as a King. The need to subjugate myself to G‑d, to do His will. My relationship with G‑d was one of fear and reward. If I do this, He will be happy. If I don't - I'm a bad boy.

As a child growing up, I went to a Yeshiva where G‑d’s infinite love for His children wasn't emphasized. That is the hardest part of the reprogramming that has to be done in order for me to recover. Interestingly enough throughout Jewish prayer we always mention G‑d as a Father first and then as a King. I believe that the proper way to impart the idea of G‑d on a child (or on my inner child) is to first establish a Father/Child relationship based on unconditional love and then to move on to the other dimension of King/Servant.

In my work with other recovering alcoholics and addicts I have found that many of the religious people I've worked with really have a hard time believing that G‑d loves them despite the constant references to G‑d's love for His children throughout the Torah and the Jewish prayers. It is a powerful decision in Step Two to lay aside our old ideas of G‑d and come to see the truth of G‑d's love.

One of the fears that I have found in looking at G‑d as the Father is that I was afraid that that would mean I don't have to do anything because “G‑d loves me.” One of the great motivators in religion is the fear of "if I don't do what I'm taught, I'll get punished, go to purgatory." If I remove that - will I still do G‑d's will? I don't have all the answers and I pray that G‑d will show me how to serve Him in a healthy balance between being His child and His servant.

Lastly, I just want to add that it is explicit in the Torah that there are two levels of serving G‑d. The first level is out of fear of punishment or fear of not getting rewarded. This motivation is called yir'at ha'onesh. The second and ultimate level is serving G‑d out of love too, ahava. It is clear that everyone should try to eventually serve G‑d out of love.

The Hebrew word for love, ahavah, is related to the Aramaic word hav to give. True love is not developed by taking, only by giving. That is the reason parents love their children so much, because we are constantly giving to them. In order to foster love I have to learn to give. Our program teaches us all about selfless giving. That is the ultimate remedy for my self-centered, frightened spirit. If I give and give and give - I will come to love.

In the Third Step prayer we say "will bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy way of life.” Our recovery proves two things: G‑d's power and G‑d's love. His power: That He performed the miraculous, saving us from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. And his Love: That He did it for us, His children. That He took a specific interest in each and every one of us.

May we all be blessed by G‑d to not only believe in His power but to also feel His love.

By Aron H.
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Max P Brooklyn, NY July 22, 2009

Love it is. Thank you for this great dvar Torah. I really relate especially when you wrote "many of the religious people I've worked with really have a hard time believing that G-d loves".
This is so true for me even growing up "religious". Fear of G-d as I related to him, never stopped me from acting out.
Through the program I found Hashem who really IS so incredibly loving. I meditate and let HIS will and love shine on me.
May G-d bless you and may we soon merit the rebuilding of Yerushalyim habenuya. Reply

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