Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Path of the Just

Chapter 16 (Part 2)

Not only should our actions be “pure”, which is to say unsullied and well executed, but our thoughts and intentions should be, too. That’s to say that we should have the very noblest of motivations when we fulfill G-d’s mitzvot rather than do them for ulterior, self-serving reasons.

The truth be known, there’s a world of utilitarian reasons why we might do mitzvot. As Ramchal words it, we might want to “deceive others”, by having them think we’re deeply observant when we’re perhaps not; or we might calculate that we’d somehow be “honored or become wealthy” by our pious affect, in situations in which others might trust us with private information or property, or place us in honored positions on the assumption that we’re inherently honest. Or we may be anxious for a reward in the Afterlife.

At bottom the point is that it would be small of us to turn to things so lofty as mitzvot to raise our stature in others’ eyes. (Ramchal depicts the greatness of doing mitzvot altruistically in some of his more esoteric works; see especially his remarks in Tikkunim Chadashim 39, 69 as well as in Pinot HaMerkavah as found in Ginzei Ramchal p. 116.)

But what’s a mere mortal to do? We can’t deny the impressions that the good things that we do make on others any more than we can deny that we sometimes do indeed try to impress others by our observances. Are we to not fulfill G-d mitzvot if we can’t do them selflessly?

As our sages stated it, the answer is that "a person should always be involved in Torah and mitzvot despite any ulterior motives” and notwithstanding the risks, “so that he might come to do them altruistically" in the end (Pesachim 50b).

That is, we’re to do what’s to be done even if less than nobly since it’s what we’re asked to do as Jews. We’re nonetheless asked to strive toward selflessness later on and we’re promised that if we have that intention we’ll eventually come to be altruistic. As Ramchal reminds us though, the point remains that “if you haven’t yet reached the level of doing mitzvot altruistically after having done them for ulterior motives you’re still far from whole”.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON TERUMAH:

View Complete List

Placing Plaques on Shtenders and Benches
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

A Place To Grow
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

A Place for Holiness
Shlomo Katz - 5773

> The Famous Ark
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

In Memory of Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

The Meaning of the Mishkan
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Secret of the Mishkan
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Long-Term Payout
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

The Power of Unity
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Giving or Taking?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5764

Doing What We Must
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Crowned Comestibles
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

ArtScroll

Do You Measure Up?
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Who Goes Hither, Freind or Foe
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

The Love you Take
Jon Erlbaum - 0

But Do You Want To
Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich - 5773



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information