You are quite right. The mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem is
certainly not a simple physical attraction. In fact, according to classic
commentaries quite the opposite is true. Inhibiting ones attraction to the
physical is a precursor to working on Ahavas Hashem.
Ahavas Hashem is a work of a
lifetime that requires much introspection, meditation, character refinement,
perseverance and self-control.
The Chovos Halivavos dedicates
the last and highest shaar to this lofty attribute and enumerates fourteen
requirements that one must undertake before aspiring to become a true Ohev
Hashem. There are many different levels in Ahavas Hashem. Every individual with
his own personal character traits has specific obstacles that he will have to
overcome to reach his own level of Ahavas Hashem. No two people are the
The full answer to your question
is somewhat beyond the scope of this forum as it isn't a simple formula or
concept to memorize. Learning through the classic sources is crucial for a
thorough understanding of this mitzvah and applying oneself to the principles
contained in these works takes hard work but is most definitely attainable.
Your second question regarding
giving up ones life in the service of Hashem is inextricably intertwined with a
good understanding of the mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem. Your premise that a person
can reach greater heights by perfecting himself further were he alive is
perplexing. Can a person reach a greater spiritual level than allowing his
physical life be taken due to his spiritual conviction? Has this person not
elevated himself to the highest possible level of spiritual perfection? A person
who voluntarily gives his life has wholly internalized the idea that the
spiritual transcends the physical. This person has come to the absolute
recognition that his whole physical entity exists only for its spiritual
How is it possible for someone to
perfect himself to a higher degree than total perfection???
May Hashem never have to test us
to the point that we must give our lives to demonstrate our Ahavas Hashem. May
we rather have the opportunity to demonstrate our total Ahavas Hashem through
LIVING Ahavas Hashem to our fullest potential as is articulated in the Chovos
Halivavos mentioned above as well as in numerous other sefarim that deal with
this lofty concept.
Hope this helps.