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Chapter Two


Don't do that."
Why not?"
""Because if you do, then..."

Then you will cause the following consequence to happen, which is not good... And so the discussion goes.

The moment you deal with the 'why' behind any law or regulation, no matter how ritualistic it may appear, you enter into the realm of the philosophical. In fact, ideally speaking, there must be no discrepancy between technical aspects of the law and philosophical truth, for philosophy should ultimately dictate law, and law, by definition, must reflect philosophy.

This is so because the nature of man is to seek out a philosophy of life, and philosophy is the pursuit of truth. (Even the simplest of people have a philosophy on life - some way to put into perspective who they are and what they do, without which they would lose their motivation to get out of bed in the morning!) It is in this way that individuals make life meaningful.

Next, society establishes 'rules' to facilitate the achievement of the meaningful, and to protect it. Thus the law of any society is an expression of the thoughts, beliefs, and values of that particular society, of what that society knows and understands about life and holds dear and precious.

The resulting rules, laws, or regulations, create a system in very much the same way that individual bricks create a house. The resulting system is really an 'environment' in which, supposedly, individuals can strive most effectively towards self-fulfillment. To the extent that the system can promote such fulfillment, the system is a success, a true expression of the philosophy of the society that conceived it.

Mitzvos, or commandments, are laws/philosophical expressions. They tell a person what is truly precious in life (Who would know this better than the Creator Himself?) through the philosophical truths they express. What may appear on the surface as ritual, is in fact, far from it. Indeed, a mitzvah is an expression of an ultimate truth, of an eternal insight into life itself. It is Divine awareness, the ultimate in pure and pristine knowledge.

There is no longer any need to guess, and err, about what is precious in life, no need to grope in the dark for a philosophy that best sets man on a course towards ultimate fulfillment. The answer is there, encoded in each and every mitzvah, in each and every Torah expression of Divine truth.

Once a base of knowledge is established from the truths expressed by mitzvos, the individual will tend to adopt a personal course of action consonant with Torah. This is true even though such personal actions are not explicitly stated in the Torah itself. Self-expressions will become Toraitic expressions (In fact, the Talmud states that a person is like a "vessel" prepared to be "filled up" with Torah.) once a person understands the message of what it means to be made in the 'image of God', and how to achieve the level of an Elokim.
(Kiddush, (lit. sanctification; the blessing recited to usher the Sabbath and Jewish Festivals), is a mitzvah that best expresses man's purpose in creation, which is why we use it to usher in the most significant moments of the yearly cycle. Many view Kiddush merely as the recitation of the blessing over wine; but in fact, if one takes the time to contemplate the message of Kiddush, they will see that Kiddush is designed to re-focus us on our abilities to be intellectual, and to re-affirm our Commitment to live up to our Divine capabilities.)

Thus mitzvos are a noble expression of ideas for us to contemplate, to think deeply about. We are to work with them, to go beyond the stage of simply 'doing' them. We must know them on the level of haskel (discernment). (See the previous essay, entitled Awareness.) The goal of becoming one with mitzvos' intrinsic and holy truths, is so that our expressions of self will reflect this perfect knowledge. In-so-doing, we perfect ourselves, for it is at the level of integrated awareness of mitzvos that you find perfect self-expression - it is at this level that you find righteousness.

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