Thursday, November 29, 2007

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The Spiritual Perspective (6)

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Look at each mitzvah’s specific body, and from that try to learn what its spiritual nature and reason are. For instance, when giving charity, see that not only is the poor person’s poverty lessened, but that the amount of suffering in the world decreased and kindness increased. Go beyond looking at the players in the mitzvah, the one who gave and the one who received. Think of the spiritual realm where the scales of creation are weighed.

The Rambam explains that there are different levels in giving charity. How can this be? The same amount of money is given to the poor person no matter how it is given. Yet, he points out, that when money it is given anonymously, is a greater mitzvah than when that same amount of money is given in a revealed manner. And the highest level of charity, he tells us, is to teach the poor person a trade, how to support himself.

The same is true when drawing another person to a mitzvah. To help him put on tefillin, or her to light Shabbos candles, is a wonderful thing. It is a tremendous kindness. But to teach someone to access the spirituality that is inherent in that mitzvah is a much greater thing to do. You will bring them to love the mitzvah so much that they will want to do it again and again. You will have taught them how to support themselves spiritually. What a precious gift you will be giving them!

But who says that we are obligated to bring another person to do mitzvahs?

Just last week, a very learned young man told my Shabbos guests, “I have absolutely no obligation to put tefillin on another person! There is no mitzvah to bring the Moshiach.” Is he right?

In the very first portion of the Torah, Genesis, we read of the first murder. When G-d confronted the murderer and asked, “Where is your brother?” (whom he had murdered), he answered, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He was asking, “Am I obligated to be concerned with my brother’s wellbeing?” This is an everlasting testimony against the thinking that says, “I am not obligated to help put tefillin on another Jew.” Does the Torah directly command us to put tefillin on others? No, but it does command us to love our fellow as we love ourself.

Where do we learn that this love includes bringing people close to Torah and mitzvahs? This is one of the Torah’s basic teachings. When we see an overloaded donkey fall, we are obligated to help the owner pick it up. If this is true for his physical load on his physical donkey, then how much more so must it be true for his much more valuable spiritual load on his spiritual donkey?

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