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We live in a world that is in desperate need of more love. Every day the media bombards us with more and more images of hatred and violence. Our natural response is to call out to God and ask Him to give the world more love. Although prayer is always a good idea, a little-known dimension to prayer can also engender God's love.
According to Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch (1808-1888), the Hebrew words "to pray" L'hitpalel mean "to judge ourselves." Before we ask God to shower more love onto the world, we first have to ask ourselves how much love we are generating.
A cryptic verse in Psalms (121:5) reads as follows: "God is your protection, God is your shadow on your right side." Most commentators interpret the verse to mean that just as our shadow follows our every action and movement and is always with us, so too does God follow our actions and movements and is always with us.
If we shower our family, friends, and community with love and kindness, then God follows our lead and gives His love and kindness to us. To a certain extent, we are the ones who set the process of Divine love in motion. Alternatively, if we act in a less than loving way towards others, then we will receive a less than loving response from God.
This concept places a great deal of responsibility upon us. However, it also encourages us to be proactive and to take more responsibility for our lives. If we want a life of love, then we first have to love others.
I had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Yaacov Haber, president of Jewish Content relate the following story that beautifully illustrates this concept. Toward the end of World War II, an American soldier's platoon liberated one of the Nazi death camps. The camp was filled with hundreds of half-starved children. The American soldiers quickly set up a huge pot of soup to feed the kids, and the children lined up behind it, eager to get their share of the precious food.
This particular soldier made eye contact with one boy at the end of the line, who was waiting patiently for his soup. The American approached the boy, and since the soldier couldn't speak the boy's native language, he communicated by offering the boy a warm hug. After they finished hugging, the soldier looked up and noticed that the children who were previously lined up for the soup had postponed their chance to eat and instead formed a line behind the soldier to receive hugs and love.
In a place of hatred, the soldier created love. After years of torture and deprivation, the children probably knew on a deep level that God was with them the whole time, even though they could not see His shadow during this dark period of their lives. As hungry as the children were for food, they were even hungrier for a little bit of love.
If we want a more loving world, then we must start by being more loving ourselves. When we show love to others, then God, acting as our shadow, will shower His love upon us.
In addition to his personal coaching practice, Ben Goldfarb has led corporate training sessions at Philips Medical Systems and Israel Aircraft Industry. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the PSC website at www.pdshiftcoaching.com, or call 972-(0)2-641-6673 or 0544-990-619 to arrange a complimentary phone consultation.