When the Torah commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Deuteronomy 6:5), what kind of love is intended? Dr. Harville Hendrix provides us with a satisfying answer in his examination of words exchanged between human lovers. In his book entitled Getting the Love You Want (p. 50-51) Dr. Hendrix claims to have isolated all that lovers have ever spoken to each other and reduced them to four basic sentences.

 

The first sentence is spoken early in a relationship when one person expresses to the other feelings of unaccountable comfort, as if they have known each other for years. “I know we’ve just met, but somehow I feel as if I already know you.” He calls this the phenomenon of recognition. Somewhat later on, one lover will turn to the other and confess that “even though we’ve known each other for a short time, I can’t remember when I didn’t know you.” The relationship has grown so solid, it seems as if they have always been together. Dr, Hendrix calls this the phenomenon of timelessness.

 

When that loving relationship has matured, one lover can look into the eyes of another and proclaim: “When I am with you, I am no longer alone.” Being together brings a sense of wholeness and completion. Dr. Hendrix calls this the phenomenon of reunification. Finally, at some later point, lovers utter a fourth declaration of love. They tell each other: “I love you so much that I cannot live without you.” They have become so intimately intertwined that they can no longer imagine a separate existence. He calls this the phenomenon of necessity.

 

When the Torah commands each Jew to love God, it is this ultimate kind of love that is intended. There are many Jews who recognize God in their lives, especially at certain milestones. And there are many Jews who seem to have always had a belief in God and cannot remember a time when they were not connected, as it were. There are even many Jews who feel that God provides them with a sense of wholeness and completion. But the objective of the Torah is to encourage all Jews to rise to the highest level of love and realize that they cannot live without God. That explains the reason for the repetition “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” It is not an easy love but a worthy one.