Monday, December 15, 2008


LNM writes: "I think a big part of this was that philosophically I had tied "doing mitzvos" directly to "serving god". For decades my attitude about Torah and Mitzvos was that everything we do is in the service of god. Light menorah? Because god wants us to. Shake the lulav? See god. Tie your shoes in the opposite order you put them on? god again."

My perspective:

Doing something in the mindset of "avodat Hashem" doesn't necessarily imply that "God wants us" to do anything. Think of all the times you do an act in honor or in respect or in memory for something or just to show your allegience to an ideal without a conception that the 'something' wanted it to be done.

The simple understanding of mitzvot is indeed 'commandment,' but there's also a strand in Chassidic thought (see Likkutei Torah, Parshas Bechukosai 45c) that it's related to the word 'tzaveh' - which means 'connection.' Jewish observance can therefrom be understood in part as a human-based effort to 'connect' with the transcendent.

So yeah, it depends completely on your approach and mindset, but shaking lulav for example can indeed be an attempt to connect with the divine by using it as a vehicle to raise your consciousness towards those ideals. This isn't to say that Jewish observance doesn't have it's great value as social activities and a cultural heritage, but I think this is a nice vort to put a little kavanah back into your actions.

1 comment:

Michael Koplow said...

I like this post. Excellent analogy.