Friday, August 03, 2007

Eikev 5631 Second Ma'amar

כָּל-הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיוֹם תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשׂוֹת לְמַעַן תִּחְיוּן/The entire commandment that I command you this day, you shall keep to fulfill it in order that you may live …” The Midrash Tanchuma cites a pasuk in Mishlei related to this pasuk, “כִּי-חַיִּים הֵם לְמֹצְאֵיהֶם .../For they are life for he who finds them …” The Midrash also explains the uncommon wording of the beginning of the pasuk. The Midrash teaches that if one person starts a mitzvah but another completes it, the mitzvah is considered to belong to the second person.

How does this work? How does a person who finds Torah and performs mitzvos receive life? The Sfas Emes explains that all life comes from God through the Torah and the mitzvos. When we learn Torah and perform mitzvos we connect to the ultimate giver of life, God. A residual attachment remains with us as we find in another pasuk in Mishlei, “... וּמִצְוֹתַי תִּצְפֹּן אִתָּךְ/… and treasure my commandments.” תִּצְפֹּן/You will treasure, also means to hide. The pasuk can therefore also be translated as, “… and you will hide my commandments within yourself.”

This is the case, though, only if we do the mitzvos with intent to attach ourselves to the inner holiness of the mitzvah. Doing mitzvos in a habitual and non-thinking way does not yield this effect. We find a clue to this in another Midrash explaining a pasuk in this week’s parsha. The Midrash tells us, that the mitzvos actually yell at us to do them. The Midrash learns this from a pasuk in Kri’as Shma, “... תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל-מִצְוֹתַי .../… you shall listen to my commandments …” The Midrash infers from this that the mitzvos make themselves heard so that we could listen to them. Why then, don’t we generally hear them? The Sfas Emes explains that we do not hear the mitzvos when we do them habitually, without thinking. To the extent that we are listening and want to connect to the inner holiness, the life force within the mitzvah, though, we hear their encouragement. In this way we get the most out of each mitzvah.

Indeed the Midrash on the pasuk above, “כָּל-הַמִּצְוָה .../The entire commandment …” says that the word “mitzvah” alludes to the word מִיצוּי/squeeze (as in – squeezing out every last drop thereby taking full advantage of).

We see that two people can do the exact same mitzvah, the same action and yet one will extract the most he can out of the mitzvah by intending to connect to the mitzvah’s inner spirituality and reveal it. This will affect him as well, leaving a residual spirituality in the person. May we merit extricating every benefit possible out of every mitzvah we do.

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