The Connection Between Ahavas Yisrael and Ahavas HaShem

The Zohar teaches that G‑d, Torah and Israel are one. It therefore follows that the love for G‑d (ahavas HaShem), the love for Torah (ahavas HaTorah), and ahavas Yisrael are one.1 Since the essence of G‑d, Torah and Israel is one, and an essence is indivisible; therefore, when one grasps a part of the essence one has the whole essence.2

For this reason:

1.Ahavas Yisrael is an indicator for ahavas HaShem, i.e., if a person is lacking in ahavas Yisrael, he is lacking in ahavas HaShem,3 for one who loves the father should surely love the children.4

2. In ahavas Yisrael lies ahavas HaShem, i.e.,ahavas Yisrael is a demonstration of ahavas HaShem. The soul of a Jew is literally a “part of the Divine”5 as explained above in Tanya, chapter 32, and therefore when one loves the Divine within the Jew, that is actually ahavas HaShem.6

3. Ahavas Yisrael is the vessel for ahavas HaShem.7 Through practicing ahavas Yisrael, one will eventually come to ahavas HaShem and ahavas HaTorah. One who works on his ahavas Yisrael will reach great heights in his ahavas HaShem.8

When one sees a Jew who only has ahavas Yisrael, one must see to it that: 1. he must also be brought to ahavas HaShem and ahavas HaTorah, and 2. his ahavas Yisrael should not only extend to feeding the needy, but should lead him to bring other Jews to ahavas HaShem and ahavas HaTorah.9

Between the three loves, ahavas HaShem, ahavas HaTorah and ahavas Yisrael, ahavas Yisrael is the greatest, for if one possesses true ahavas Yisrael, one automatically has ahavas HaShem and ahavas HaTorah. One who has ahavas HaShem does not necessarily have ahavas HaTorah, and one who has ahavas HaTorah does not necessarily have ahavas Yisrael.10

Ahavas Yisrael is greater than ahavas HaShem as the verse11 itself testifies, “I love you, says G‑d.” Therefore when one has ahavas Yisrael, one loves that which the beloved G‑d loves.12

Furthermore, the three loves correspond to the three pillars upon which the world stands:13 Ahavas Yisrael corresponds to acts of kindness, ahavas HaTorah to Torah, and ahavas HaShem to avodah.14

A further comparison may be drawn from ahavas HaShem to ahavas Yisrael: The Sages15 comment on the verse16 “And you shall love the L‑rd your G‑d,” that the imperative to love, ve’ahavta, suggests also that the name of the L‑rd your G‑d should become beloved through you, i.e., that others will come to love G‑d through your actions. The same may be applied to ahavas Yisrael, i.e., that one’s ahavas Yisrael should be in such a way that one’s friend becomes beloved through you.17

The Resting of the Divine Presence (Shechinah)

When there is unity among the Jewish people:

1. the Shechinah rests with them.18 When there is fragmentation,19 the Shechinah removes itself for it cannot rest in an incomplete place.20

2. G‑d does not look at the people’s misdeeds.21 The reason for this is that when Jews are together, the Shechinah rests between them, and the Shechinah itself does not wish to see its own defect. However when there is hatred among Jews (G‑d forbid), there is a separation between the Shechinah and Israel, which causes G‑d to see the misdeeds of Israel in general, and in particular, the misdeeds of the individual who is the source of the hatred.22

3. G‑d fulfills the people’s requests and listens to their prayers and supplications. The people of Israel are the children of G‑d, and when the Father sees the children living with each other in a spirit of mutual love and care, each one putting aside his own worries in order to calm and offset the worries and needs of the other, then the Father takes great pleasure from his children and He works wonders to fulfill their requests.23

In this vein:

1. The blessings that are received and given at a Chassidishe farbrengen — a gathering in the true spirit of ahavas Yisrael — can arouse G‑d’s mercy even more than the angel Michoel can arouse on behalf of the Jewish people.24

2. When a Jew sighs over the troubles of another, that sigh has the power to break through partitions of steel which may be in heaven created by accusing angels, and conversely, the joy which one Jew expresses when he hears of the simchah of another and the blessing he gives him is accepted by G‑d as much as the prayer of Rabbi Yochanan the High Priest when he entered the Holy of Holies.25