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“It shall constitute tzitzis for you, that you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them; and not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray” (Numbers 15:39).
This verse teaches us that when one looks at tzitzis (for men wearing them) they are a reminder of all the mitzvos. Here we have a physical act (looking at the fringes) which can have a tremendous spiritual impact on a person! What is the deeper meaning here?
Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlit’a in Taam V’Da’as learns from this verse how someone should approach trying to bring an estranged Jew closer to Judaism. The first thing one must teach them is how to draw close to G-d through the performance of the mitzvos. The Torah does not tell us to keep the mitzvos so that we will be righteous but it is the basis of our belief that this will help us in our struggle of going after our eyes and our heart!
This means that when our thoughts are pure we fulfill the verse of keeping all the mitzvos and becoming holy! We are in a constant battle against the evil inclination and fighting all the negative influences society bombards us with. Even so, by keeping the mitzvos, it strengthens us spiritually and helps us become holy people. Therefore when we want to bring someone closer to Torah, they don’t have to try and reach the highest levels at the beginning.
This is difficult to understand because the reality is when someone does a physical act, like eating, even though they make a blessing before and after, how does that transform them into becoming closer to G-d? Mitzvos are two-fold. On the one hand, they are a physical act but there are many spiritual aspects to it that has a positive affect on our soul. In fact, as the Chovas Halevavos (Duties of the Heart) in Chapter 10 of Shaar HaYichud (the Gate of G-d’s uniqueness) tells us the only reason we can have a spiritual connection to G-d at all is because He gave each of us a spiritual soul.
That soul gets strengthened and nourished spiritually through the mitzvos that we perform! We may not necessarily feel that but we get tremendous power from the mitzvos even if we don’t perform them kabbalistically! There are times we feel good about ourselves when we do mitzvos that help others. Whether it is an act of loving kindness by giving charity or just a listening ear, we definitely feel stronger and better when we know that we have helped someone else.
That feeling is the spiritual juice that keeps the soul going. We need to be consistent though in what we do so we can always be going in the right spiritual direction. When we go after our desires and our heart though we succumb to the physical world which can certainly affect us in a negative way.
May we merit the ability to continue and go in G-d’s way, doing what we need to do to reach our true potential.
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