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King of hearts

Written by Rabbi Daniel Leeman

We have each been commanded to “love G-d with all of your hearts” [1]. We only have one heart, and so we have been taught that these “hearts” actually refer to our two inclinations: our good inclination and our bad inclination [2].
Whilst we understand the role of our good inclination when it comes to loving G-d, what role does our evil inclination play?
Once upon a time, the king of Spain called upon his astrologer to reveal to him the secrets of the future. The astrologer predicted a long and healthy life for the king, and in turn the king bestowed upon the astrologer great wealth and honour.
One day the king became ill, and, sensing that he had been cheated by his astrologer, summoned him to reveal to him his fate. In the meantime the king appointed his soldiers to guard the room and upon his command would kill the astrologer.
“When will be the date of my death?” asked the king.
The astrologer, sensing that his life was in danger became confused and scared.
“You claimed that I would have a long healthy life; now tell me”, demanded the king of the astrologer, “what the stars say about the day of death?”
“I will die three days after you, your honour”
From then on the astrologer was not only let off, but was guarded and protected very carefully.
Our evil inclination, just like our good inclination is a part of us: we cannot separate ourselves from it! On the contrary, we must guard it very carefully, for otherwise we will become incomplete.
A sign of true love is when it is directed towards a single recipient and no other. Indeed the word ‘ahava’, meaning love, shares the same numerical value as the word ‘echad’, meaning one [3]. In other words, true love is not just about loving something or someone, but also about not loving anything else! [4] *
Therefore to truly love G-d by definition involves having, but nevertheless refraining from pursuing, other temptations. And so to truly love Him, we must utilise not only our good inclination – to love Him, but also our evil inclination – to ensure that we love nothing else. The perfect team! [5]
Have a lovely Shabbos,
Dan.
Additional sources:
Story: Hagadah of Ben Ish Chai, p. 209 (Od Yosef Chai, Ki Seitzei)
[1] Devarim 6:5
[2] Rashi, Devarim 6:5 (Sifri; Brachos 54a)
[3] Maharal, e.g.  Nesivos Olam, Netiv Yirah 1
[4] See also Sefer Yetzira 6
[5] See also Rashi, Devarim 6:6, 7 (and blessing before Shema in the morning prayers)
* This helps us understand the extra love/hatred that our patriarchs and matriarchs seemed to have for some of their children/wives. Perhaps it also helps understand the love/hate that G-d has for certain people – see also Shabbos 89b

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