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Monday, Tammuz 26, 5782 / July 25, 2022


This Shabbat we will recite the second chapterof the Pirkei Avot (Chapters of our Fathers).


Although written two thousand years ago, these teachings are valid today as they were then.  Here is a lesson from this week’s chapter:


Rabbi Yehuda, compiler of the Mishna says, “Be as careful in the performance of a[seemingly] minor mitzvah as that of a major one, for you do not know the exact reward given for specific mitzvot.”


Q.  Why didn’t G-d tell us the reward for each of the mitzvot (only for very few)?


A.   Our sages explain that if we knew the exact reward of mitzvot then people would perform only those whose reward is great and neglect doing the other mitzvot. Thus, G-d didn’t tell us the reward for mitzvot.


Q.  Why can’t we judge which mitzvot are minor and which are important ones as they appear to us?


A.  What we see from our human limited perspective may not be exactly the way the mitzvot are in reality, from their spiritual viewpoint and effect. A mitzvah which may seem minor to us or a transgression which may seem insignificant to us, may in fact be very major in the higher realms.


A poor man once came to the home of a wealthy person and asked for some old clothing.  The people in the house had pity on the man and told him to go to the attic and choose some clothing.


The poor man went up to the attic where he found some old clothing, which he decided to take. Looking around for rope to tie his bundle, he saw some rope wrapped around a nail on the wall.  Without thinking much of it, he took out his pocket knife and cut a piece of rope.


Instantly he heard a tremendous crash down below. Before long, everyone came racing to the attic, “You broke our beautiful chandelier!” they screamed. “But I only took a small piece of rope!” the poor man tried to defend himself. “How could I have broken your chandelier?”


They answered bitterly: “This smallropewas holding the chandelier to the ceiling. By cutting this smallpiece of the rope, the chandelier fell to the ground and broke, causing a bigdisaster!”


It is the same with mitzvot.  Some mitzvot may seem insignificant, but in truth, just as the small piece of rope holding up the chandelier, they are very significant.


This is why our sages tell us not to judge the value of mitzvot. What may seem small and insignificant, may indeed be very great and valuable with much depending on it. Thus, we must try to perform everymitzvah we can.




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