In a recent conversation on the topic of emotional connection to God, a friend raised the idea of focusing on God’s love as a means to achieving reciprocal emotion. In other words, by reminding yourself that God loves you and by focusing on all the good things He has given you as a result of His love, you can internalize the fact that He loves you and, as the theory goes, you will then eventually love Him back.
My friend also mentioned a Rosh Yeshiva whose motto is “Do you know Hashem loves you?” and who will ask children, “Who loves you the most in the world?” If a child answers, “My parents,” he will respond, “No, Hashem loves you even more!”
This idea does not sit well with me. To my ears it sounds far more like the Christian mantra “Jesus loves you” than like an authentically Jewish approach.
My question is: does God really ‘love’ us?
Obviously, we believe that God created the world and the Torah for our benefit—clearly it could not be for His own, since He has no needs. However, is this concept of a personal, emotional love a part of our weltanschauung? Certainly we are obligated to love God, but does He love us?