“Love your neighbour as yourself; I am Adonai” (Leviticus 19:18). There is a Chasidic interpretation of the last words of this verse: “I am Adonai.” – “You think that I am far away from you, but in your love for your neighbour you will find Me; not in their love for you but in your love for them. The one who loves brings God and the world together. The meaning of this teaching is: You yourself must begin. Existence will remain meaningless for you if you yourself do not penetrate into it with active love, and if you do not in this way discover its meaning for yourself. Everything is waiting to be hallowed by you; it is waiting to be disclosed and to be realized by you. For the sake of this, your beginning, God created the world. –Martin Buber 1952
The one who loves brings God and the world together. What is this love? It is not sentimentality nor is it romantic attachment. Love is an action rather than a feeling – we are commanded to Love God in Deuteronomy 6:5 with all our heart (intellect), all our nefesh (soul/ being) and all our power /strength (me’od).
Love is an action – when we work at love, by caring for the needs of others, by looking outside our own needs and wants and instead thinking about the community in which we live, the humanity of the other – then we bring God and the world together.
Martin Buber’s world view, that everything is waiting to be hallowed by our actions, and it was for this that the world was created, must surely inform our practice in Elul, as we reflect on what we have done and not done, and the work that is waiting only for us to see it and do it.
As Rabbi Tarfon says (Pirkei Avot 2:20) “The day is short, the work is great, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master of the house presses.”
He also said It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it (2:16)
More than half way through Elul, it is time to do the work of active love.