Sign up to TorahFax


Tuesday, Iyar 20, 5784 / May 28, 2024 (35th day of the Omer)


This Shabbat we will recite the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot. In the beginning of the chapter our sages tell us that the world and everything within it were created by the Ten Divine Sayings which are recorded in the beginning of the Torah – in Book of Genesis.


Also, the number of Commandments on the Two Tablets which G-d gave to Moshe at Mount Sinai were, Ten. Our sages explain the connection: Through the observance of the Ten Commandments, which include all the commandments, we sustain the world. This way we become partners with G-d in creation.


The Talmudic sage Rabbi Chanania ben Akashia said, "The Holy One blessed be He wished to confer merit upon Israel, therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundance."  Thus, all the mitzvot of the Torah were given for our benefit in order to "confer merit" upon Israel.


The Midrash states that the Torah was the "blueprint" by which G-d created the world. Just as an architect builds according to a pre-written plan, so too, G-d created the universe according to Torah.


Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, compiler of Pirkei Avot cautions us, "Be as careful in the performance of a seemingly minor mitzvah as of a major one, for you do not know the reward given for the mitzvot."  Being the "blueprint" of creation, each mitzvah is very significant


Rabbi Yaakov, the Magid of Dubna, explains this with a wonderful parable.  An architect visited another country and saw a most beautiful palace. He decided to build the same palace for his king.  He found the plans of the palace and copied it in great detail on a small piece of paper.


When he came back home, he asked someone to make an enlarged but accurate copy of his blueprint.  The person worked diligently and when he was finished, he proudly showed the architect his drawing, expecting a handsome reward. 


When the architect carefully studied the copy, he shouted, "You missed one dot which was in the original.  Why did you leave out the dot?" The man, not understanding why the architect was so upset, replied, "It was only a small dot, I didn't think it was that important."


The architect replied, "The blueprint that you copied was drawn at a greatly reduced scale. The small dot represents one of the pillars which support the entire upper floor of the palace.  If this pillar is not in place, the whole building will collapse! It may look like a dot, but it is essential to support the entire structure!" The same, says the Magid, is with the mitzvot.  What we may think is a "minor mitzvah," may be the very pillar which has a major effect on the upkeep of the entire universe!


Modern day example: Just try sending an e-mail without the little dot in the address… Some mitzvot may seem to us minor, but like the seemingly minor dot, they make a major difference!