The Powers of the Soul to Experience God
Introduction: The Internal Dimension
Ahavah is the spiritual state associated with the sefirah of chesed. Ahavah is the essential power of “growth” inherent throughout reality. God created the world with love and sustains the world with love.
The experience of ahavah begins with a sense of attraction and being drawn to another, a sense which continues to grow and expand until it virtually encompasses one and one’s beloved in their clinging to one another. Love is an attractive vector force.
There are thirteen such vectors (ahavah = 13), corresponding to the 13 spiritual states associated with the sefirot:
- the love of God for Israel.
- the love of Israel for God (the origin of this pair of loves is referred to as ahavah rabbah, the “great [and infinite] love”).
- the love of a master for his disciple.
- the love of a disciple for his master.
- the love between disciples (the origin of these three loves is the love of the Torah).
- the love of a husband for his wife.
- the love of a wife for her husband.
- the love between friends (the origin of these three loves is the love of Israel).
- the love of a parent for his/her child.
- the love of a child for his/her parent.
- the love between siblings (the origin of these three loves is the love of the land of Israel, the eternal physical link between generations).
- the love of a king for his subjects.
- and the love of a subject for his king (the origin of this pair of loves is referred to as ahavat olam, “worldly [finite] love”).
Our love for God expresses itself in three growing stages: “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). These three stages reflect themselves at all of the above levels (the full spectrum of 13 love vectors manifesting their five general origins). The verse, “and you shall love Havayah, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might,” possesses 39 letters (as does the whole verse which contains the following phrase possessing 13 letters: “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself”). 39 = 3 times 13 (the three stages of each of the 13 loves), which equals Havayah (26) Echad(13)–“Havayah is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).