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What is a Mitzvah?

Thursday, 14 November, 2013 - 8:06 am

Usually a mitzvah is translated as a good deed. Wrong! As in most cases, the translation of a Hebrew word is accurate but does not completely capture its meaning. 

A man comes to a marriage therapist and asks him: what do I need to make my wife happy? The therapist answered: I don't know, ask her! 

A man comes to a Rabbi and asks him: what do I need to do to make G-d happy? The rabbi answered: I don't know, ask G-d!

What’s the answer? For your wife, ask her! 

For G-d, no need to ask Him for He already answered: Do my commandments as I told you in the Torah. 

The word mitzvah comes from the Hebrew word Tzav meaning commandment, as well as the Aramaic word Tzavta meaning connection. 

A mitzvah is an act that follows a commandment from G-d, doing G-d’s will, which results in a connection with G-d.

A mitzvah is not a good deed done to get to heaven or to feel good or religious. A mitzvah is something done to be connected to G-d.

This is similar to a husband doing what his wife wants, because it is what SHE wants.

See you on Shabbos, 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. this email was prompted by this email exchange – 

Rabbi Kushi - Did you report your mitzvah? www.HarfordChabad.org/Light

M - Not yet. The definition of MITZVAH is a tough one. I try to do good and help people every day. For instance, earlier this week, out of the clear blue sky, a guy called for advice on how to ...... How he got my number I will never know. I gave him every good tip and idea I had. I don't even know his name. Was that a mitzvah? It sure made him happy….

I try to be kind to animals, including my fellow man, and I try to forgive those who have done wrong, even if they are unrepentant. Are those mitzvot?

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