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The Greatest Commandment

Aseret Hadiberot -

The Greatest Commandment

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What commandment of the Torah is the most important of all? Or, to put it another way, what is it that God requires of us? What is the purpose of our lives, and how can we fulfill that purpose?

In Matthew 22:36 we read about an "expert in the Torah" who "tempted" our LORD by asking this very question: "Rabbi, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
Yeshua replied by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 (the Shema):

Deuteronomy 6:5

"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

Deuteronomy 6:5

In a sense, this is a restatement of the First Commandment -- and our response to the fact that God loves us and is our God. In other words, the love of God is our very first duty.

The love of God! Think of it! Not the knowledge of Torah, regardless of how edifying or noble; not external observances, regardless of how scrupulously or beautifully observed; not the practice of Jewish minhagim (customs), regardless of how much they might make us feel identified with God's Chosen People; not even the love of friends, as tender and warm as that may be. No. Yeshua's answer is that the greatest duty of our lives is to love God with every bit of our passion, inwardness, and strength...

When we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is truly produced within us, we will not find ourselves walking contrary to the way of the Torah (Gal. 5:22-23), and the inward motivation of the Torah will be written upon our hearts
(Jer. 31:33). As Rav Sha'ul (Paul) wrote in Romans 13:10, "Love is the fulfilling of the law."

The Essence of the Ten Commandments

Love is the central idea of all true Torah. Though there are some slight language differences between the Exodus and Deuteronomy versions of the Ten Commandments, both begin with "I AM" (אָנכִי) and both end with "[for] your neighbor" (לְרֵעֶךָ). Joining these together says "I am your neighbor," indicating that the LORD Himself is found in your neighbor. When we love our neighbor as ourselves (אָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ), we are in effect demonstrating our love for the LORD.  We must learn to disregard the claims of our ego and cling to the idea of chesed. So who is your neighbor? You are -- to every other soul you may encounter this day...

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