Inside and Out of Mitzvoth


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The Inside and Out of Mitzvoth

By Eliezer Cohen

O.K. We are going on the honor system now. We assume that you send in your answer.

To truly understand the answer, we must know that the commandments are divided into two aspects: the physical action and the mental and emotional devotion. When we do one of G-d's commandments we physically do some action, as in the case above, we put on tephilin. In addition, we also have a mind set going, meaning our thoughts and desires as we do the physical command. These two aspects are very important. Without them no commandment is complete. In our story above, the two boys each did half of a divine command. One did the physical aspect of the commandment, the putting on of the tephilin, but he did not at all have any desire to do the commandment. As a matter of fact, he hated doing it and only did it for the money that his father gave him. If his father would not give money, the boy would not put on the tephilin. He physically did the command, but was not connected to it.

The second boy, the one from Russian, wanted with all his heart and soul to do the mitzvah, he risked his life for it. But he too, only did half of the command. His Tephilin were not kosher, since they did not have the parchments inside and were not constructed in a proper manner, he did not complete the commandment. He, however, did something else. He used these imitation tephilin to come closer to G-d which is one of the ultimate purposes of the tephilin. Still he accomplished only half of the command. The mystical book, the Zohar, explains that there are two levels in Gan Eden, paradise, the upper level and the lower level. The lower level is reserved for reward for the physical aspect of the command. The higher level is reserved for reward of the more inner aspect of the command, the connecting to G-d.

So, we see from this little illustration, an interesting point. There are two aspects to the divine commands, one is the physical and one is the spiritual. G-d being a faithful employer will give a reward for the job done. However, he is also a compassionate father, a will pay even more to those who take the time and effort to truly make a connection to him.


from the December 1999 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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