What are Mitzvot Really For Anyway? by Moshe Blackstein

(2006/5766) 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
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
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
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

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