Friday, September 09, 2011

Teitzei 5632 Second Ma'amar

In this week's parsha we find the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird – shilu'ach hakein.[1]  Chazal tell us that this is the easiest of mitzvos.[2]  It involves no outlay of money and it is easy to do.  Unlike most other mitzvos, the Torah specifies the reward for this mitzvah – long life.  Another mitzvah for which the Torah tells us the reward is the mitzvah of honoring our parents; the reward – long life.  Chazal[3] teach us that the mitzvah of honoring our parents is among the most difficult mitzvos.  Many times it requires outlays of money and is also difficult to do.  Why does the Torah reveal the reward for these two mitzvos but for no others?

The Midrash[4] in this week's parsha answers this question.  God does not want people to choose which mitzvos to perform based upon their relative benefits.  Rather He wants us to perform all the mitzvos with equal enthusiasm.  He therefore did not reveal their rewards.  The only mitzvos for which he revealed the rewards are the easiest and the hardest mitzvos and for those the rewards are equal.

The Sfas Emes asks why it is that the most difficult of mitzvos and the easiest have the same reward.  Could it be that the rewards for mitzvos are purely to provide us with incentive?  Is there no connection between a mitzvah's reward and the difficulty of performing it?  The Sfas Emes answers that each mitzvah's reward is in fact, appropriate for the mitzvah.

We tend to be drawn after great mitzvos that are difficult to perform.  Intuitively, we understand the importance of a difficult mitzvah.  When do it, we feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Easy mitzvos, though, are treated lightly.  It is not easy to relate to a mitzvah that is easy to do and costs nothing to perform with the proper respect and gravity.  For this very reason, they are actually more difficult to perform properly that the "difficult" mitzvos.  And so, their reward is equal to that of the difficult mitzvos.  

[1] Devarim 22:6,7 – If there chances before you … a bird's nest … with chicks or eggs, do not take the mother with the chicks.  Send away the mother and then take the chicks for yourself …
[2] Devarim R. 6:2
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the 2 mitzvos may be tied directly!
>> if one shoos the mother-bird as
commanded, she may honor his parents
with a visit, with a good report--"u'va'al k'nafayim yagid davar" (koheles 10:20)! (or, G-d forbid, conversely, disgrace the parents by her visit, by an evil report, if she wasn't duly shooed) :-)