[Avodah] Mitzvos are not for Hashem

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Jan 30 09:55:36 PST 2013

On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 05:13:23PM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: Besides teaching that mitzvos are for our benefit, not HQBH's,
: Rav also teaches us that mitzvos are for our *benefit*, not for our
: *enjoyment*...

I blogged about this a couple of weeks back, blaming a pagan-esque
mentality for
    - the refocusing of religion on segulos and
    - performing mitzvos for their metaphysically caused outcomes (eg
      Kupas haIr ads) or of
    - kiruv selling Judaism as the only path to real happiness,
    - miracles stories in which the only planes missed are ones about
      to crash,
    - books in our sefarim stores that carry the same self-help message
      as those in Barnes & Noble, but quote chazal and other baalei
      mesorah, and finally
    - invoking HQBH primarily for things science can not explain, to
      the extent that scientific explanations are seen as challenges to
      emunah (which plagues both sides of the creationism debate).

Paganism is worship "lehisyaher bo" (BB 10b).

See <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2013/01/pagans-in-our-midst.shtml>.

To this list, I think I can also add the shift in girls' education (in
many circles) from being "Chesed and 612 other mitzvos" to being centered
on tzenius. (Or mussar from being

Also related is R' Shlomo Wolbe's (derogatory) definition of "Frumkeit",
in Alei Shur II pg 152-155 <http://www.aishdas.org/as/frumkeit.pdf>.
He calls it observance through instinct, which like all instincts is truly
about self-preservation and thus I-centric. RSW gives the example of the
person who makes sure to practice ahavas Yisrael for its mitzvah value,
rather than because they actually love others. One must approach a
mitzvah to see the deed done, not because on has some self-interest
in being a mitzvah-doer.

Still, as a side-effect.... There is a personal benefit to doing His
Will. "Asei Retzono keretzonekha, kedei sheya'aseh retzonekha kiRtzono"
(Rabban Gamliel son of Rebbe, Avos 2:4 -- the last mishnah of the
cronological sequence beginning at 1:1).

Also, a machine runs more smoothly when it is utilized for the function
which it was designed. Knives do better when they aren't drafted for
screwdriver duty. And people do better when we do what Hashem made us

And then there's the whole idea of sekhar as a consequence of the
mitzvah. <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2013/01/pagans-in-our-midst.shtml>
pp 41-46. Along the way, I cite two causal approaches: (1) a person's
sins scar his soul [R' Yonah, Ramchal, R' Chaim Volozhiner] or (3)
dirty it [Ikkarim, Ran]. This broken soul or soul that has a blockage
from receiving Hashem's Good therefore suffers.

But while true, it can't be the goal. And mitokh shelo lishmah ba lishmah
is only when one doesn't make the "al menas leqabel peras" one's new

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             With the "Echad" of the Shema, the Jew crowns
micha at aishdas.org        G-d as King of the entire cosmos and all four
http://www.aishdas.org   corners of the world, but sometimes he forgets
Fax: (270) 514-1507      to include himself.     - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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