by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
“If a Jew lives his entire life being very kind, but he doesn’t put on tefillin, or do any of the other mitzvahs, what will happen to him in the next world?”
Everything in creation has a body and a soul. The body of a rock is its physical substance. The soul of a rock is the life within it. If you look at a rock with a microscope you will see something moving around. There is life even in a rock.
A mitzvah also has a body and a soul. For instance, the body of the mitzvah of tefillin is the scrolls, black boxes, and straps. The soul of tefillin is its spiritual nature, which brings about the spiritual changes that come when you put them on.
The problem is, you can do a mitzvah every day, and be aware of only its body. You will have absolutely no idea that anything spiritual is happening. The inherent spiritual results of the mitzvah will never reach your conscious mind. They will happen, but you will not know it.
You can do a mitzvah only physically, but you cannot do a mitzvah only spiritually. This means that even though you put on tefillin without any thought of their spiritual nature, you still will have performed a mitzvah. However, if you simply have the spiritual awareness that comes from the mitzvah, but do not physically put them on, you will have accomplished neither the physical nor the spiritual mitzvah.
Obviously, the objective is to fulfill both the physical and spiritual requirements.
When you seek the soul of a mitzvah you will have holy thoughts. These holy thoughts will uplift you, and they will lead you to additional holy deeds. These deeds will bring more holy thoughts, and then more holy deeds. This will continue until you find yourself fulfilling the commandment, “So that you remember and perform all My commandments and be holy to your G-d.”[i] You will become a holy being.
“Performing” the mitzvahs refers to physically doing the mitzvahs. “Remembering” the mitzvahs refers to the spiritual aspects of the mitzvahs. Why are we told to remember and to perform? If we perform them, doesn’t that show that we remembered them? No. There must be spiritual remembering, too.
Now to your specific question: The Jew who does many good deeds during his life, such as being kind to everyone he meets, will be rewarded with a huge heart in the next world. This does not mean that he will have a large physical heart. It means that all of the spiritual rewards for his kindnesses will come to him.
However, the areas of his spiritual body that are nourished by tefillin will not be developed at all. He will, so to speak, have a tiny arm, and be lacking in certain areas of his head.
Each mitzvah is designed to develop a particular spiritual area of your life. These spiritual areas are represented by their physical counterparts, such as, “doing” is represented by the arm, and “remembering” is represented by the head.
The woman who lights Shabbos candles will be greeted by a wondrous light in the next world. This light will actually elevate her soul. It will feel like a joyous, upward rush into G-d’s very Being. Even if she lighted her candles only physically in this world, this holy experience awaits her in the next world.
However, if she lights her Shabbos candles, and remembers the soul of the mitzvah, too, she will have an even greater share in the next world, and she will begin to see the spiritual benefits of the mitzvah in this world, too.
For instance, she could recognize that lighting candles:
- brings both physical and spiritual light into a darkened world,
- ushers in a time of peace and rest,
- makes the day holy,
- spreads invisible light that fills the room,
- reveals the physical things that otherwise would be hidden,
- brings a time of spiritual favor……
If she does this well enough, that wondrous, holy light awaiting her in the next world will begin to be revealed to her in this world, too.
[i] Numbers 15:40
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