A Matter of the Heart

posted in: BasicPhilosophy | 0

Every nuance in the Bible is of significance. So when you see that the last letter of the five books, “lamed,” and the first letter, “beis,” spell the word “lev”, which means “heart”, you have to recognize the significance of this observation. There are at least two possible reasons for this nuance.

First, the end ties itself back to the beginning, which suggests that the text is not a book to read and finish, but rather a circle that connects around. You’re never finished. The Bible needs to be read and reread. Just as the heart needs to keep pumping blood through the body, the soul needs to have itself replenished continuously with the wisdom from God. Secondly, this nuance accentuates the fact that the “heart” is a major focus throughout the five books of Moses. One’s internal relationship with humanity and God is of utmost importance. We are not merely expected to act as though we care about others (although for some even this is an overwhelming challenge), but we are commanded to truly be concerned for the poor, disadvantaged, handicapped, elderly, foreigners, etc. The heart matters.

This should be obvious. How can we really be making a difference by our actions if our heart is not in it? What good are empty rituals? A mezuzah is not a good luck charm; it is a reminder to make your home holy. A Shofar is not a foghorn or a jazz instrument; it is a call to take a spiritual accounting. It should be clear to any rational person that God knows what’s in the heart. He designed the commandments not as superficial acts, but as a means to use the physical world to connect to the spiritual. What’s going on in the heart is like an electric current that allows a commandment to be turned on and activate as connection to God. Even though, without being told, we realize that it is obvious and logical that God is concerned with our heart, we find this idea said many times in the Bible, as in Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love God, your Lord, with your whole heart…” and again in verse 6, “And these things that I command you today should be on your heart.” Sometimes we need to be reminded of an obvious truth. There’s something inside every human being that causes them to forget or ignore obvious truths. That’s one reason why the Bible needs to be read and reread.

The funny thing is that all learned wisdom is really a reminder of what we should know in the first place. Somewhere in our hearts is a reservoir of truth. The Talmud suggests that we have the entire truth and all wisdom imbedded in our subconscious by God. It says that while in the womb an angel teaches us all wisdom and causes us to forget it on the way out. So the statements in the Bible encouraging us to connect to the heart are also an indication to look inside to see if we can find the truth ourselves.

This may be why an “understanding heart” is listed as one of the ways that wisdom is acquired in Chapters of Our Fathers 6:6. Since the heart is itself a source or barometer of truth, it can help us sift through information and find that which is true. Your heart can be used like a Geiger counter for wisdom. Close your eyes and ask yourself if this rings true for you.

Let this not be confused with people who say, “I had to follow my heart,” which usually means they decided to do something they know to be morally wrong because their emotions got the best of them. The Bible also cautions us “not to follow the eyes and the heart.” Our emotions are connected to our heart. That’s the superficial heart of misguided feelings and infatuation. That’s not at all what this article is about. We’re discussing something deeper.

Furthermore, when attempting to connect to that which is hidden inside us we are actually attempting to become one with God. Our soul is our innermost part, and the soul is a piece of God. Searching inside to see if something rings true is like asking for confirmation from the Almighty. In fact, much
of life’s challenges involve doing just that, looking for that spark of holiness inside us. And looking for that spark of holiness in others as well.

Ask yourself if your life is on track with what God wants from you. Check with your heart to see if what you believe in and what you do with your time is an expression of truth. Look inside and ask your heart.