Having studied Tanya for some years now, I always get stuck at the same point: Through concentrating deeply on how G‑d is at once beyond all things and within all things, how He rules and controls the entire world, and how all is like nothing before Him, we are supposed to come to love Him.

I don’t get it!

How does realizing G‑d’s greatness foster love for Him? Contemplating His greatness only brings me further away from Him—if He is so great and high and mighty, and I am so small, where do we connect? How can I love something so much bigger than I can even fathom?

My rabbi must have said it a million times: “You can love only that which is close to you, that which you can see and relate to.” These meditations make me feel awed by His greatness—but love?


Yes, there is a missing link in that chain.

Imagine the following scenario (works best if you’re an American, but easy to adapt if you’re not):

You’re enjoying your morning coffee, flipping through the mail. One more flip, and there in your hands is a large embossed envelope with the return address “The White House, Washington, DC.”

You rip it open to find a personal letter addressed to your name from the president of the United States. He describes a new project of his called “Getting To Know My Fellow Citizens,” which will enable selected Americans to get to know the President, and you’re one of the lucky few participants.

You’re wondering if this is an elaborate joke, when the phone rings. “Miss ——,” says the voice on the other line, “this is the events coordinator at the White House. You received a letter in the mail? Wonderful. The President was wondering if he could take you out to lunch today, and perhaps follow that with a spin in his private plane.”

Getting to know the President would be a thrill. And it’s not golfing on the White House lawn or the chats in the Oval Office. It’s the knowledge that he chose you—you, out of 300 million or so American citizens—to be his buddy. This most powerful man is choosing to give you his leisure hours, to share the gifts that he and the country have to offer.

Now tell me, how would you feel about the President?

I’m sure you’ve experienced this in real life on a smaller scale. Someone you really admire shows interest in you, and you feel close to her. It’s a spontaneous emotional response: This person is so great, so wonderful, so good, and she took the time to seek you out and develop a real relationship with you. You can’t help but love her.

G‑d is the great King that the Tanya describes: all-powerful, almighty, with all of existence at His disposal. He looked at creation in its entirety, put it all aside, and chose you. And He says, “I want to be close to you. Let Me tell you how we can build a relationship together.”

The stronger your understanding of G‑d’s greatness, the stronger the impact that choice has on you, and the stronger your love for Him.

Let me know if this helps,

Mrs. Malkie Janowski