Three Loves, One Way

Marc Chagall's "The Tribe of Asher"

A teaching of Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, from Kedushas Levi, Parshat Terumah (1).

There are three loves in this world. The first is love for what is forbidden (may the Merciful One save us!). The second is love for something permitted; while this love is permissible it still does not fulfill love’s true purpose. The essence of love is rather the innerness of love which is within those other forms of love, both of which indeed come from the Creator. So we must take the inner love which is clothed in these forms, and through it come to love the Creator. This is the third love, and it is the essential one.

Through this love we can raise up the sparks of divinity held within everything in this world. For it is forbidden to say that there is anything in this world that does not have its root above — rather, our role is to look deeply into the innerness that is within each thing and see that there is love inside it, and take that love and use it to serve the Creator…

This is hinted at in the instructions to make the menorah “a single hammered piece from its base to its flower”: we must unite all the inner life that is in this world with the Creator, even the “base” and worldly things, and even the lowest, forbidden things, for the word for “flower” also means “fallen,” that is, the sparks of divinity that have fallen into a forbidden thing (2). We must rejoin all these loves to the Creator, for all loves come from the Creator.


1) All of the verses are actually taken from Parshat Beha’alotecha, but the teaching is included here because Parshat Terumah explains how to make the menorah.   2) Numbers 8:4

Jeff says…

Like any religious person, the Hasid has to separate out the fit from the unfit, the good from the bad. But the Hasidic way is not one of rejection but selection. Instead of labeling any part of the world as “bad,” we recognize that it is all from G!d and can all lead us back, if we know how to see. As Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook would later say, “There is no such thing as unholy: only the holy and the not-yet-holy.”

For another teaching on loving G!d through what we might otherwise reject, click here.

This entry was posted in Concepts, Divine Service, Hasidic Masters, Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev/Kedushas Levi, Parsha, Terumah. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Three Loves, One Way

  1. Pingback: The night will shine like the day | Hasidism for the Rest of Us

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