“I directed my soul unto her, and I found her in pureness: I have had my heart joined with her from the beginning, therefore shall I not be forsaken.” -Ecclesiasticus 51:20 KJV
Lishmah (לישמה), literally translated means “for her sake,” or “for her name.” In Kabbalah it is generally translated as “for its sake,” or “for its name.” “It” here refers to the study of the Torah, stating why we focus on the Torah and the Mitzvah—we study the Torah for the sake or our love of the Torah. However, this term, lishmah, may be used for anything we do for YHVH; thus it can also mean “for the Lord’s sake”.
As we practice lishmah we are in the Shekinah, the Presence of God; and we are the Shekinah, the congregation (Isaiah 54:5, 62:5; Matthew 25:1-46). This is why Heavenly Mother or the Divine Feminine, and the Congregation, the Church, or the Assembly of the Saints are both referred to as Shekinah: a feminine force representing the will to receive. But what does this have to do with love? Maybe everything.
Learning to Live with Love
“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” -Proverbs 5:18-19
In the Fellowship of Christ, we do not tell people how to live their lives. Rather, we do our best, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to grow ourselves and help others be one with God and gain their own revelations on how to live. When we say that we all need to seek our own revelations, this doesn’t mean that whatever or however God tells us to do something is the “hard rule” or same path for everyone else. The “hard rule,” so to speak, is to seek and obtain.
Remember the Everlasting Gospel that has been restored by the Book of Mormon: a book written, translated, and understood only by prophecy and revelation. This Gospel, or good news, that Joseph Smith restored, the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Without it, the Church cannot be the Shekinah or in the Presence of God. Without this spiritual gift, the Church is reduced to a glorified book club.
The relationship Latter Day Saints have with the Book of Mormon, and with God, is very personal because of this truth. It is an anchor that keeps us safe with God while the storms of the sea flies around us. Likewise, we must seek God’s light in all of our relationships, especially when it comes to finding love. And when I say finding love, I’m not merely speaking of finding a helpmate, I’m referring the true love, the light of Christ, that unites us as Christians.
Love and the Torah
When it comes to love and relationships in the Torah, it becomes clear that there is no “one fits all” approach. In it we see the love of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-4), Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar (Genesis 12-18, 20-23), and so many others. In other Biblical writings, we see the great love between Ruth and Naomi, then later between Boaz and Ruth (Ruth). We also see the joy of the torn lovers David and Johnathan (1 Samuel 18:3), and the sinful lust of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). We can compare much from these to our lives today. But let us instead look at this in terms of our love for the Torah. In the Zohar we read:
“A parable: To what can this [our love for the Torah] be compared? To a beloved, ravishing maiden, hidden deep within her palace; she has one lover, unknown to anyone, hidden too. Out of love for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly, lifting his eyes to every side. Knowing that her lover hovers about her gate constantly, what does she do? She opens a little window in her hidden palace, revealing her face to her lover, then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself. No one near him sees or reflects, only the lover, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flow out to her. He knows that out of love for him she revealed herself for that one moment to awaken love in him. So it is with a word of Torah: she reveals herself to no one but her lover.” –Rabbi Yeiva Sava
Anyone may read the Scriptures, but only we who love them may learn their secrets. How do we love them? By our marriage to Christ, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Which gifts? The gifts of prophecy and revelation we all share as the Church of Christ.
Love and the Creation
One of, in my opinion, the greatest scriptures comes from the Torah:
“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” -Genesis 1:31
Why is the creation good? Because it is loved by God (John 3:16-17). We are good because we are loved by God, and we allow God to work through us because of our love for that God that created us. This is why love is the key, love is the greatest commandment. To understand the scriptures, to live a life without sin, to be the children of God, the very children of Jesus Christ, we love. Love God, love your neighbors; everything else is commentary.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust… Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” -Matthew 5:43-45, 48
Here we see that love is the very definition of perfection. Many say that love seems too simple to be the answer, yet as we look at the world around us, it is clearly the hardest. We make lists of rules, certain Jews have made a list of 613 rules! And we know even Latter Day Saint denominations may have their own list of rules. And while, yes; avoiding tobacco, for example, may seem hard for some, loving our neighbors is the hardest commandment of all. While we feel good looking at our list and checking off things we are “doing right,” how much does it matter if we too cannot see the creation and understand that it is good?
Be the Love, Be the Lishmah
Lishmah, again, means “for her sake.” And it is Jesus’ lishmah, for our sake, that he suffered in Gethsemane, was humiliated, bruised, and beaten, that he gave up his life upon the cross, that he spent time in the prison of spirits, and that he rose again and ascended to the Father (Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-20, 1 Peter 3:18-20, 2 Peter 4:6). His lishmah was the atonement: the bonding of the Creator and the Creation that all may be one again in the New Eden (Revelation 19:7-9, 21:1-27, 22:17). All we are asked to do is to love, for when we truly love we don’t worry about an arbitrary list of rules, we obey all the commandments simplify because it is in our nature to do that which is good. Therefore, go now and be the light and love of God this world so desperately needs.