middot adaptability besorah righteousness in love

righteousness in love

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-thankFor the authors of the ketuvim sh’lichim (Apostolic Writings), righteousness is tied up with the mitzvah of love. Love, for all its repetition in Scripture, is a concept connected to righteousness, which we must keep kindled in our hearts and minds. The prayer of Rav Shaul for the Philippians is paradigmatic:

Here is my prayer. I pray that your love grows greater and greater in its deeper knowledge and full perception so that you can tell what is superior and you may be pure and blameless till the day of the Mashiah, when you are satiated with the fruit of goodness coming through Yeshua Mashiah to sing the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, Restored New Testament, Barnstone, emphasis mine)

What Barnstone translates as “goodness,” others have translated as “righteousness.” For Rav Shaul, it is the deeper wisdom that comes from growth in love that demonstrates righteousness, the fruit of which we will taste most fully upon Mashiach’s return. Love has its own wisdom, reasoning, and protocol. Love emphasizes unseen beauty and provokes joy and faith in others as imperfect as ourselves. Love requires us to look into another’s eyes and say the face of the living G-d in all its beauty, and in the surprises that come from deepening relationship. Love requires acts of favor and kindness that come from a soul moved by encounter.

Love can be psychologically defined as an emotion, intrinsic to the internal world of a person’s mind but without intrinsic application. Righteousness is a characteristic which frames the concept of love into a way of being and a way of action. Righteousness comes to us most fully in the person of Yeshua, and it is in him that we can hope to come close to the purity and blamelessness that Rav Shaul so earnestly prays for his audience. May his prayer be fulfilled in all of us as we take the steps to look long and hard into our own thoughts and actions in this season of righteousness.

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