האהבה נמשך על יד אמונה והוא הדבקות

Rabbi Yakov Yosef of Polnoye, the author of “Toldot Yakov Yosef” — the first written record of the Hasidic teachings of the Besht — wrote:

“Love [of God] is drawn out by faith, which is dveykus.” [1]

“…drawn…” I consulted the Hebrew original to see what word was used and whether there might be a preferable English word. He used משך/mashach; to “pull out.” This quotation is found in R. Yakov Yosef’s discussion of parshat “Yitro,” which includes the giving of the 10 Commandments to Mosheh on Har Sinai. More specifically, the Rebbe is discoursing at length on “I am Ha-Shem your God…,” in the course of which he seems to be saying: This being the first mitzvah given there, it implies that believing in God — i.e. having faith — is the root of all the other mitzvot, especially loving God.

In this context, we might say that Love (of God) is derived from — “drawn out of,” as it were — faith. We might also understand “drawn” as: “Love of God” emanates from “faith.”

Faith in God leads to love of God.

Rabbi Yakov Yosef then says that faith itself is “dveykus” [attachment to Hashem/ transcendence].”

Elsewhere, [2] he says the same thing:

האמונה הוא הדביקות: Faith is dveykut.

He means that “faith” is not a static statement of belief (e.g. chanting the words of “Ani ma’amin” alone, without reflecting on their meaning and their personal importance in your own life). Instead, “faith” is a personal experience; a revelation — even momentary — of the Divine as Present and active in us, around us; even as us! As Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein said, faith is the whole-hearted recognition of the Divine Presence, along with the conviction of Divine Goodness.

Faith is a direct experience of God. We go beyond thinking, to the Divine level within ourselves:

“When we give ourselves up to the contemplation of G-d, our soul takes us into a region beyond our present physical world…We transcend, we go beyond the limitation of finite thought, and we draw therefrom power, strength and wisdom …If we have been nervous, tense or worried, we can, in a few minutes, cause ourselves to become calm…It is a deliberate and conscious change from our daily thinking to a communication with the infinite, through our soul…It has been said that we can experience union with something larger than ourselves, a sense of oneness with the power beyond in that union, we shall find our greatest contentment and peace. That union we make and can experience only through our soul.” [3]

Faith is dveykus (or dveykut). 

It requires more than just “the right ideas.” It means “letting go;” “giving ourselves up.” As “Adon Olam” says, “B’ya’do af’kid ru’chi” — In God’s Hands I place my soul; my life. “Af’kid” — from פקד/pa’kad; I assign my life to God’s care.

I might try to give up concern, but even “giving it up” is in the realm of human thought. When we have faith — when we experience dveykut; transcend — God’s Presence is simultaneously revealed to us, even for an instant, and our concern is taken from us.  

Rabbi Yakov Yosef is telling us that enough of these moments inevitably lead to our love of God. 

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[1] Rabbi Yakov Yosef; Toldot Yakov Yosef; from commentary to parshat Yitro;
found online at:
http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14213&st=&pgnum=1&hilite=
(p. 192, bottom and p. 193, top)

[2] ibid., p. 188

[3] Schwartz, Charles and Bertie; Faith through Reason; National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America; 1946; p. 28-9