Extension of the Soul

Elul 20, 5782
September 16, 2022
Candlelighting Time 7:00 PM

            The Torah expounds in great length the punishment awaiting us if we do not adhere to the mitzvos. Of course, we can only imagine how terrible a person must be to warrant the horrible consequences mentioned in this week’s parsha. A simple perusal of the parsha will inform the reader of the dreadful retributions that await the offender. Certainly, we are discussing one of the worst offenders that could be. However, as we draw near to the end we are astonished and shocked! The whole litany of castigations that are pending are because one served Hashem without joy, happiness and a good wholesome heart. Hashem has been so kind to us and yet we restrain ourselves from performing the mitzvos and learning Torah in the most energetic and vibrant fashion indicative of the happiness that should accompany someone who is enthralled with observing the Torah. Obviously, we must reciprocate in the most outstanding manner when we receive such incredibly gracious treatment. However, the extent of the punishment levied against this offender is exceedingly harsh.

            Rabbeinu Bachya explains in great detail that serving Hashem with joy and happiness is not just an additional elevation of performing the mitzvah. It is to be viewed as a mitzvah onto itself. When a person does a mitzvah with that stately attitude, it is indicative of his total devotion and commitment to the mitzvah’s accomplishment in the best possible fashion. Maimonides, Rambam, clarifies further that not only must a person demonstrate happiness when he performs a mitzvah but additionally his expression of love for Hashem should also be accompanied with a tremendous surge of joy and happiness. The underlying reason is because if one does not express his joy and happiness in these matters, it is because he is not honoring Hashem. Rather his own personal honor and pride are more important to him than that of Hashem’s.

            Hashem admonishes the individual who does not serve Him properly because he has provided for all that person’s needs, and yet that person does not appreciate what has been given to him. Meshech Chochmah adds that since we were blessed with so much and yet failed to appreciate the gifts from Hashem it must be that we are overindulging in our physical pursuits. That is a secular and non-Jewish approach to life that we must not tolerate. It leads one astray from his mission and in place of the enjoyment that one would have in serving Hashem, rather he grows despondent because he searches for fulfillment in avenues other than those of the spiritual.

            Rambam concludes with a passage from Proverbs which states that in front of the King, Hashem, we should not present ourselves as notable. To the extent that we promote ourselves, we minimize the great significance of the omnipresence and sovereignty of Hashem. As Rambam writes in other sefarim, we can only attain fear of Hashem if we place Him on a pedestal far above us. Then we can truly serve Him with unbounded happiness and joy and be enthralled with His greatness and magnitude.


We should cry out to Hashem when we are searching for His assistance. Also, one should have in mind the entire nation when he davens and ask for his needs after he has performed a mitzvah such as bentching. That is why we recite all of those requests when we complete the bentching. CHOFETZ CHAIM