Tizku lemitzvot - may you merit performing G-d's commandments!

How far, with the passage of time, we have fallen in our love of mitzvot...

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 16:08

Judaism Danny Ginsbourg
Danny Ginsbourg
In Behaalotcha, the parsha read this coming Shabbat in Israel, we read of the entreaties (9:6-7)‘of the men who had become impure, by coming into contact with a human corpse’, to be allowed to bring the Pesach Offering, in its appointed time.

Our sages praise them as being: אנשים כשרים וחרדים למצוות- righteous people, who are very concerned for the observance of mitzvot.

Rav Meir Robman expounds: Although Moshe Rabenu had told them that they could not perform this mitzvah, because of their impurity (caused by their engaging in the mitzvah of attending to the dead);rather than ‘acquiesce’, they persisted in seeking to be permitted to perform the mitzvah.

And, whilst Hashem decreed that they indeed could not perform this mitzvah, ‘in its appointed time’, He rewarded their love of mitzvot, by ‘giving’ them, and all Bnei Israel, in their merit,  a new mitzvah:The mitzvah of Pesach Sheini,  that those who were precluded from bringing the Korban Pesach in its appointed time, could bring their offering on Pesach Sheini, in a month’s time.

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin asks rhetorically:Why were they so determined to be permitted to perform this mitzvah? There are a myriad of mitzvot on Pesach, and so what if one year they could not perform one of them? And especially, when they were halakhically ‘exempt’, why did they complain:’Why should we be diminished by not being able to bring our offering’?

And he answers: Sadly, we learn from them how far, with the passage of time, we have fallen in our love of mitzvot.

Unlike them, in our generation there are people who rejoice if they find an ‘excuse’ not to have to expend money on a dvar mitzvah; even ‘blessing’ themselves, in their hearts, with the bracha ברוך שפטרני: ‘Blessed is He who has exempted me’, when they are ‘able’ to avoid performing a mitzvah!

Rav Robman brings the Gemara (Brachot 35), to teach us of the decline over the generations, in the love of mitzvot: Earlier generations took special care to ensure that their produce was subject to the mitzvot of מעשרות: tithes; later generations, on the other hand,  utilized various halakhic ‘leniencies’ so that they could ‘enjoy’ eating their produce without having to tithe- by not bringing it into their property by the front entrance of their property, but via their yards, and in other ways, so that it was halakhically ‘exempt’, from these mitzvot.

Laments Rav Robman, whilst they were meticulous in ensuring that they ate their produce ‘strictly’ in accordance with halakha, their ‘maneuvers’ showed the decline in their love of mitzvot.

Unlike them, the ritually impure men in our parsha teach us the correct approach: to seek always to do mitzvot, even when we can ‘exempt’ ourselves from so doing- or are indeed exempt.

By their words: למה נגרע מלהקריב את קרבן ה׳: ‘Why should we be DIMINISHED by not offering Hashem’s offering’, they taught all generations that it is NOT doing mitzvot, that diminishes a Jew!

And, in this, they were true disciples of Moshe Rabenu:The Gemara (Sotah 14:) asks: Why did Moshe Rabenu so yearn to be permitted to enter Eretz Israel, despite the decree that he not enter it? Did he need to eat of its fruits, or to enjoy its goodness? No! אלא: Rather, he said: ‘There are mitzvot which can only be performed in Eretz Israel’-המצוות התלויות בארץ- ‘I NEED to enter, so that I can perform them’!

Concludes Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl:The true test of our love of mitzvot, is the manner in which we approach them: Do we seek to perform them? Or, do we seek ‘excuses’ so as not to have to perform them?

The person who understands that each mitzvah is a priceless gift from Hashem, will, like the righteous men in our parsha, seek all means possible to be able to perform mitzvot- even if he can ‘validly’ exempt himself from them.

May we all merit the beautiful bracha: תזכו למצוות: To have the זכות to perform mitzvot!