“For Hashem your God is testing you, to know whether you love Hashem your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Devarim 13:4)
Klal Yisrael and Hashem are compared by Chazal to doves (Shir Hashirim Rabba, Aleph). What is unique about these animals is that they have a mate, and that mate stays with them forever. The Chasam Sofer in this week’s parsha expounds on this idea in a way that is truly uplifting.
Imagine a man who has been glorified for half a century as a talmid chacham and a tzadik, aman who also gives of his time to do chesed for others. This is indeed the kind of person that everyone tries to emulate. Imagine that he rises to the level of being a prophet, and one after the other his prophesies come true. One day he says that he has had a prophecy from Hashem: “At this time in particular it is necessary for all Jews to serve idols. Not only that, but the L‑rd has said to me that those who do not serve them will be punished with famine and drought. Only those who will follow the Will of the L-rd and serve these idols will be blessed in both This World and the World to Come!” The people are confused. “It just doesn’t sound right” they say among themselves. But all the signs point to following this ‘prophet’. This is a man whom they have adored and they have never seen a crack in his character. How do they decide if they should follow him or suddenly call him a blasphemer?
The Chasam Sofer gives the following comparison: Imagine a woman who truly loves her husband and they live in a permissive society. The husband “I give you permission to have a relationship with another man, and if you don’t have this relationship, then I am going to divorce you.” For this woman throughout her married life, the will of her husband was the most important thing to her and she always fulfilled it. Yet, this time she stands up and says “Even if you will divorce me, I could not live with another man. Only you, for only you do I truly love. And all those threats, even if carried out, will not change or sway me in any way.” This woman is the true “woman of valor” for there is no room in her life for anyone else.
So too, when the prophet comes and says, “Follow another god, a god of stone, and G-d will give you eternal bliss”. If the Jewish people truly love Hashem, they will stand up to the test, whatever the consequence may be.
Many times we are faced with decisions to make, and we know that there are leniencies that could be used which would allow us to do certain deeds. Just because the rabbi says that it is permissible doesn’t mean that it is not a test from Hashem to see if we really love him, or if we are just doing what is permitted.
A few pesukim later, the Torah also discusses the pull of friends. Many times people have pressure to do things with their friends or family. Friends – as good as they are – do not care about you as much as Hashem does. Let us not forget that when it comes to being faithful, both the male and female dove are faithful to each other. As faithful as you are to Hashem, He is even more faithful to you. May we merit to make a ‘dovely’ decision.