May God bless your Shabbat. To my non-Jewish readers, may your worship this weekend be blessed as well.
My devotional thought for the weekend is from Deuteronomy 11:22:
For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him…
I know it is not even a complete sentence. So why quote it? I want to focus on the phrase “hold fast to him.”
Moses already told his audience to love and walk with HaShem. Why add to that “hold fast to him?” In addition to loving God and following his commandments, we need to know God is a resource for us. He is not only the king who demands, but the savior who gives us what we need. How does he do this?
He expects us to cling to him, to hold fast, to cleave emotionally, and this is our relationship with him. We cleave because he is the source of all help in need.
The Hasidim speak of devekut, cleaving to God, from the same word used in Deuteronomy 11:22. It is the goal of Hasidic spirituality and Messianic Jews and Christians could learn from it. I don’t advocate the whole kabbalistic world-view, but I do advocate some of the spiritual beauty in Hasidic Judaism.
According to Yitzhak Buxbaum (Jewish Spiritual Practices, a book of only 750 pages!) devekut has two parts:
1. “The intensification of love for God until that love is so strong that you cleave to him without separation.”
2. “Direct awareness of God.”
In Christian spirituality, I would compare this to “practicing God’s presence,” the spiritual discipline made famous by Brother Lawrence.
Loving him so intently that you do not become separated means cultivating and emotional attachment to God that fuels obedience and devotion. It means growing so emotionally attached that disobeying becomes too unpleasant to contemplate. It is a love so intense “that you are not separated from God for even a moment.”
Direct awareness of God means God is always in your thoughts no matter what you are doing. God is not relegated to a prayer time. God is in the world, everywhere we go. We never leave his presence, so we should cleave to his presence instead.
This devekut also describes what I see as the spirituality of the Psalmist. David, a man’s man by any definition, wrote in forthright emotion about God: “my soul waits,” “in the shadow of your wings,” “zeal for your house has consumed me,” and “my soul thirsts for you,” to quote just a few of his emotional expressions.
So this holy Shabbat, cleave to the Holy One, blessed be he.