How Can We Renew Ourselves?

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Ki Tisa 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

I was asked how we can renew ourselves in the coming year in our communities. What should we be doing? What point needs strengthening? What should be advanced?
Obviously we must fulfill the entire Torah, as it says, “We will do and obey all that G-d has declared” (Shemot 24:7). Moreover, Radbaz in a responsum objects to establishing “main tenets of faith”, since everything is a main tenet. All the same, there is room for main tenets, as Maran Ha-Rav Kook explained in his article “Ikarim” [Main Tenets], for when a person is healthy, the doctor treats all his organs, but when he is at death’s door, we do what we can to save the essence. Similarly, the end of Tractate Makkot explains about great Torah figures who established a limited number of principles to encapsulate the Torah.
It is thus obvious that these foundations will not be changing every year. Rather, they have to remain fixed down through the years, for only contiguity has the power to have an influence. As Maharal teaches, what has an influence is the unchanging method, not the transient.
For that same reason, the required method is not sectarian. It is not tied to a particular community. Otherwise, it would lose its main strength, which is association with the entire
Jewish People. Rather, it has to include the entire Nation that we belong to. That method was isolated in the book “Orot” by Maran Ha-Rav Kook, and was well-explained by Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda, and that method is: love and faith – the love of every Jew and faith in G-d, with love preceding faith.
Love of Israel, love of all Jews, those close and those far removed, those similar and those different, loving one’s family, community and Nation, one’s spouse, parents, children and neighbors, loving the religious and the irreligious alike, the right wing and the left, the Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Yemenites, and Ethiopians, those we agree with and those we disagree with, those whose ideas we combat or don’t combat. Such love does not just involve
emotion but profound intellect, intellect that discerns that what unites us is infinitely greater
than what divides us. Such love involves a moral process of purification whereby exaltation
transcends egotism and individualism and excess, subjective, exaggerated self-love.
Love. Love! That is the word and that is the cure.
Faith in G-d means clinging to G-d, belonging to G-d, and believing that all that G-d does is good, even if we do not understand it. It means believing that the Jewish State was an act of G-d, that the government and the army are good, despite their many shortcomings. It means believing that Moshe is truth and his Torah is truth. It means believing that every word of the Written and Oral Torah is true, and provides us with life and happiness. It means believing that the content of our lives is to serve G-d, whether through the mitzvot involving our relationship with G-d, or those involving our relationship with man. It means believing that it is our job to sanctify our lives for the service of our Creator, to increase G-d’s glory and to sanctify His name.