Going the Extra Mile

Av 22, 5782
August 19, 2022
Candlelighting Time 7:32 PM

            After exhorting the nation to expand their horizons to search for a higher level of serving Hashem and avoiding the many pitfalls that they unfortunately had fallen into in the desert, now their mission is clearly defined. Moshe declared that if only you will obey Hashem’s mitzvos, then He will reciprocate and provide for you as well. If we will adhere to all the mitzvos of the Torah, even the ones that are seemingly insignificant, then Hashem will recompense and guarantee that we will merit kindness from Him in return. It’s important to understand that ‘rate of exchange’ between performing mitzvos that are not viewed as important and its substitute, a renumeration of kindness.

            K’sav Sofer offers a very interesting insight concerning how we are rewarded for performing a mitzvah. Although the Talmud states that we do not receive a reward for doing a mitzvah in this world however, the effort required to perform the mitzvah is indeed rewarded. And that is what Rashi cites from the Midrash regarding the mitzvos that one ‘treads upon’ that Hashem rewards that person. He refers to the ‘walking’, in other words the hard effort expended to accomplish the mitzvah! We may define that extra exertion that we expend as a display of ‘kindness’ in the sense that we are going the extra mile to serve Hashem! Therefore, Hashem in his ultimate compassion for His nation showers us with kindness as well.

            Malbim cites a Midrash that the Patriarchs did not await reward when they fulfilled the mitzvos. For if they would have, then the ensuing generations would not have had the same relationship with Hashem full of compassion and mercy. Furthermore, we would not have merited possession of the land of Israel. We would have only been strangers in our land and not viewed as rightful settlers. In learning from our forebears we also suspend our request for any level of reward so that our mitzvos can continue to forge a path for the future, continuing to create that special connection with Hashem. Perhaps we may assess the reward for our diligence not as a reward for the mitzvah, but rather as a response for efforts to serve Hashem and that kindness that we display as a legacy, revisits us as well!

            The Midrash puts forth the question whether or not one can move a candelabra made of many components? The Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shneur Kotler asked what is the connection between that question and the parsha. He explains that the Midrash is conveying an incredible concept. It is not the huge actions that we do that form our essence, rather it is the small perhaps seemingly insignificant actions that constitute and truly define the individual. Just as a candelabra consisting of many pieces is viewed as an entire item, so too is the person’s epitome characterized by his many components, his myriad acts of serving Hashem and his interaction with his fellow man in ways that may seem small but indeed they are profound.

            Akeidas Yitzchok questions why the parsha opens mentioning the ordinances of the Torah, which pertain to social interaction, and omits other types of mitzvos that are stated elsewhere? He answers that the relationship that we have with others in a community creates a close bond between people and generates strong friendship and love between its members. That attachment of affection which engenders kindness and compassion is the theme that the parsha is transmitting to us. Therefore that kindness that we radiate is noted by Hashem and in return He deals with us in a compassionate and empathetic manner. And that also is the message of the Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva because when we focus on the ‘minor’ mitzvos it is indicative of our love for Hashem that every nuance of service is truly powerful and impacting and resultantly we bask in His warmth and amity.


The Torah prefaces our performing mitzvos with the theme of listening to them. It is vital that we accept our obligation to do the mitzvos wholeheartedly and then we can serve Hashem properly.