Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mishpatim, Shemos 24:7. Cost/Benefit Analysis of Mitzvos

To my dear readers:  The current  (2/16/10) news has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that I made a serious error of judgment on this website. 

Earlier Divrei Torah on Mishpatim:

For 2010:

Klal Yisrael, offered the Torah, responded Na'aseh Ve'Nishma.  It’s amusing to note that this statement, which refers to our commitment to learn and do mitzvos, is in Shemos 24/7. (It’s only amusing, because perek numbers are arbitrary, and because “midvar sheker tirchak is in 23:7, which should mean that you can lie one hour a day.  Maybe that's for when your wife asks you how her sheitel looks on her.)

What was so remarkable about Na'aseh Ve'Nishma?  The Gemara in Shabbos 88 says that Hashem said “mi gila le'banai raz zeh," who revealed to my children this secret that the malochim use, this Seraphic Secret.  If Na'aseh Ve'Nishma means that our learning will be flawed unless we do it with the intention of fulfilling the Mitzvos, ahl me'nas la'asos, what does that have to do with the malachim?  They don't do anything ahl me'nas la'asos.

The Alshich, where the Torah discusses the building of the Mishkan, talks about all the precious wood, stone and metal.  He says says that one might wonder why we need all these luxurious and precious things to bring the Shechina. Wouldn’t purity and simplicity be a better matrix than extravagance? He answers that the Shechina was shoreh not because of the precious things, but because when the people donated them, when they brought these objects, they felt they were giving something extraordinary, something that embodied their desire to do their best, and they brought them with a sense of love and privilege.  It is when a person considers that his kiyum hamitzvos is a privilege, and he does it with love and pleasure, that the Shechina is Shoreh. The objects are simply things that we consider precious, and which are donated by people who honestly and deeply want to do their best for the Mishkan. (Rambam Isurei Mizbei’ach 7:11.)   This actually is not a lesson we only learn from the Alshich; this is something Hevel realized at the dawn of time.

Based on the Alshich, that it is the Ahava that is mashreh the Shchina, we can also say that the Na'aseh means that we will do the mitzvos realizing that it is our privilege to do them, that they show our love and gratitude to the Ribono shel Olam.  We will learn the meaning and significance of the mitzvos as a limud and as a method to advance out actions, but we will do them because Hashem told us to. 

Note, please, that this was a sea change from what Klal Yisrael had been doing until now.  The Avos, we are told, also fulfilled the Torah (Yoma 28b); But the Avos fulfilled the Torah because they understood their underlying reasons, and so every time they did a mitzvah, they had to decide whether under the circumstances it was the most efficient thing to do.  We do something they never did (with the exception of Milah).  We do Mitzvos qua Mitzvos, i.e., tzivuyim of Hashem because we accepted the obligation to follow Hashem's commandments.  We did this because it is Hashem's will that we do so, and we have a natural drive to bring nachas to the One that we love.  That desire for this entirely novel relationship with Hashem is expressed in Na'aseh Ve'Nishma.

When one buys a gift, or does a favor, for someone he loves, he does not stop to scrutinize the economic ramifications of his act.  When one does mitzvos with this attitude, one does not do a cost/benefit analysis.  This is the midda of Chanun, to do things lifnim mishuras hadin, beyond the call of duty.  This, then, is like the ahava that the Malachim have.


  1. I would like to query whether Naaseh v'Nishma is all it's cracked up to be....

    I saw a pshat in kofo aleihem har kgigis that is not literal, it's a metaphor for their being exposed to the reality of Hashem, and therefore their response was moot, it's not like there was anything to choose instead.

    This fits in wonderfully with Purim, where the Jews accepted the Torah meiahavah, but leaves a big question mark on Naaseh vNishma...

    But all in all good post :)

  2. >>the malachim? They don't do anything ahl me'nas la'asos.

    A malach is rotzon hashem, their very being is al menos laasos

    pc :-)

  3. oy vey gevald!!!!
    stop posting ?????
    what will we do now????

    what news are you referrinng to?

  4. http://havolim.blogspot.com/2010/01/shemos-214-achein-noda-hadavar-leeches.html

    I'm still angry;
    so many people were so quick to accept the truth of the ugly accusations, and I think this reflects an internal ugliness on their part;
    and I am convinced that partisans of the opposition to his organization viciously used the accusations as an offensive weapon to achieve their goals without any interest in its truth and without any qualms about the devastation that would result for the protagonist and his wife and children and grandchildren, and the innocent talmidim in his yeshiva. They did a timcheh es zeicher on the man, and they didn't care what tool they used.

    So, I still say there are a lot of people who are asid litein es hadin for what happened here.

    But considering what amounts to an admission, and discounting theoretical hidden hands that may have forced the admission, the whole parsha nauseates me and makes me wonder if I should have been more circumspect.

  5. Please continue posting for the sake of those of us who had no idea what news you were referring to.

  6. Not having any knowledge what so ever of these matters, i think your original post was still accurate. We dont know what really goes on and a "mob" mentality to rush to judgement is still wrong and contrary to the intent if not the letter of halacha. My son and I spend time reviewing your posts even though he lives in e'y and i hope that you continue to say what needs to be said on behalf of the "silent majority". Your divrei torah provide us with many a friday discussion ( since he lives in e'y), and I would hate to look for it in another blog. ( assuming that one even exists like yours!) Keep going and chazak Vammatz!