What are Mitzvot Really For Anyway? by Moshe Blackstein


People often wonder what Hashem really wants from us.  Does Hashem really need us to do Mitzvot?  What purpose is there in performing these seemingly unnecessary actions?

Rashi explains that the only thing that Hashem requests from us is that we fear Him.  Rashi extracts this from the fact that the Torah writes (10:12), “And now Israel, what does Hashem your God ask of you? That you fear Hashem your God…,” from which the Gemara derives, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven with the exception of fear of Heaven.”  The one thing Hashem does not control is our internal and spiritual fear of Him.  It is up to us to relate to Hashem with the utmost fear that He obviously deserves.  Rashi continues that while one can fear God by making a sacrifice to Him, one can also fear Him by performing His Mitzvot.

The Rambam offers an alternative answer.  He explains that Hashem never actually demands anything in life for His own sake.  Rather, Hashem demands specific things solely for our benefit.  Therefore, the Pasuk says, “Behold, to Hashem, your God, belong the heaven and highest heaven, the earth and everything that is in it.”  Hashem already has everything; He does not need us whatsoever.  By giving us Mitzvot, Hashem expresses His love for the Jews.  The Jewish people are Hashem’s chosen nation, and He rewards us by obligating us in Mitzvot.

We should never look at any of the Mitzvot as something that is bothersome or annoying.  As much as people feel that Mitzvot prevent them from “enjoying” themselves, in reality these commandments mean the world.  While performance of Mitzvot gives Hashem “nachas,” it is also intended to make the Jewish people better.  We must do our utmost to capitalize on this very special set of obligations that Hashem has placed upon us.


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