Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

"The Way of G-d"

Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"

Ch. 4: "Human Responsibility"

Paragraph 5

It’s in fact the mitzvah-system that lays out the parameters that we’re to function within 1. Each imperative 2 is intended to allow one to earn and incorporate within himself a degree of perfection, and each prohibition 3 is meant to withhold a degree of murkiness and imperfection.

It’s vitally important to know that each element of every mitzvah has been designed with humankind’s true makeup and circumstances in mind, with the degree of one’s own and the world’s needs, as well as with each thing’s own needs and conditions for perfection.

Indeed, G-d who knows all of this in fact, and knows all of creation and the role each thing plays in creation, oversees everything and incorporated all of that in His mitzvah-system 4. As it’s said, “G-d commanded us to follow all of these rules … so that He might grant us goodness” (Deuteronomy 6:24) 5.

Notes: 1. … spoken of in 1:4:4.

Many people see mitzvahs as mere “good deeds” -- as ways of earning Divine “merit badges”, if you will. Others see them as concrete symbols of high ideals, expressions of Jewish people-hood and culture, of uniquely Jewish ethical imperatives, and the like. And others tie them in with Jewish history and past circumstance (and come to dismiss them as irrelevant in modernity). But the mitzvah-system goes far beyond all of that. As we’ll see below, it was instigated by G-d Almighty who took our hearts and minds into consideration when determining its makeup, and who wants to draw us close to Him, and made that its goal.

Ramchal’s point here is that the only thing that takes the needs of both our body and our soul into consideration and can nourish both (see 1:4:2-3) is the mitzvah-system. For thanks to it I can, for example, eat for my body’s sake and yet have it fulfill my soul’s needs by reciting a beracha (i.e., blessing) before and after eating, eating to fulfill a Shabbos or Yom Tov obligation, etc.

Ramchal speaks about the mitzvah system in very many of his works. See for example Messilat Yesharim Ch. 1; Adir Bamarom pp. 3, 186; Tiktu Tephillot 267, “Da’at Tevunot 2” 9, 16, 44; Klallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 8; Introduction to Ma’amar HaVichuach; Da’at Tevunot 70, 126, 158; and Klach Pitchei Chochma 46.

Also see Avodat Hakodesh 3:63; and Sh’nei Luchot HaBrit, Torah Ohr, Re’eih.

2. I.e., each so-called “positive” mitzvah, which is a terrible translation of mitzvah tasseh, better translated as an act that it’s a mitzvah to do.

3. i.e., each so-called “negative” mitzvah, which is an even worse translation of mitzvah lo-tasseh, better translated as an act that it’s a mitzvah to refrain from.

4. Thus the mitzvah-system in conjunction with the human soul, mind, body, and will could be said to be one huge “engine” with interrelated parts, along with interrelated processes that can sometimes be explained and otherwise not, that are sometimes manifestly successful and oftentimes only clandestinely so, but which is ultimately meant to move everything toward one end: closeness to G-d.

5. This makes the point that the mitzvah system is part of G-d’s means for beneficence (see 1:2:1-2).

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various locations on the Web.



View Complete List

What Miracle?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Performances and Customs
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Of Fire and Money
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Triumph of Quality Over Quantity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Aroma of Calm
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Our Brother, Eisav
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Chanaukah Lights
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Huts For the Cattle
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

The Strong and the Weak
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

> To Win By A Hairsbreadth
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

The New Eisav
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Every Little Bit Counts
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763


Chanukah Thread
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5776

Yaakov Did Not Rely Solely on Prayer
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

Today's Chanuka Miracle
Rabbi David Begoun - 5766

Taryag Mitzvos: No. 613
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information