Growing up I was taught that when I did a mitzvah I somehow changed something in heaven that would make good things happen and if I sinned a similar but opposite celestial change would bring about bad things. As a little boy in
To make a long story short, at some point I got interested in learning again and realized that ignorance was at the base of my problem. I also got professional help while I was learning and gathering information. I remember the great breakthrough came when I discovered Yeshayahu Leibowitz and his take on Rambam. It renewed my interest in Rambam and I believe that it was the key to my rehabilitation. My internal life has since changed dramatically.
I am writing this not because I have exhibitionist tendencies but rather to share with others who may have similar experiences and hopefully, as they follow some of the things I work through on this blog, they will find the same solace and sense of integration rather than a conflicted split persona. Especially important to deal with this issue, is what I want to address as the next subject, Ta’amei Hamitzvot. What is the purpose of all these commandments and prohibitions? When we transgress, we feel guilty. For what exactly are we feeling guilty? Is it because we hurt God, our soul or the consequences that we brought down on ourselves? If it is God that we hurt, is He not a petty tyrant being hurt because I picked a rotten tomato out of a batch on Shabbat? If it is our soul, what does that mean? What exactly is that soul? If it is consequences why feel guilty? Take them like a man (or woman) and move on. I hope to answer these questions as I progress with this subject.
Unlike Ramban who believes, that Mitzvot change things in heaven especially in Eretz
What then is the utility of Mitzvot?
“But the truth is undoubtedly as we have said that every one of the six hundred and thirteen precepts serves to inculcate some truth, to remove some erroneous opinion, to establish proper relations in society, to diminish evil, to train in good manners or to warn against bad habits. All this depends on three things: opinions, morals, and social conduct.” (MN3:31)
The way I would like to deal with this subject is to follow Rambam’s exposition which is to first examine the exact meaning of each of these categories and what is their importance in making us better people. Some are more obvious than others are, though I am sure, if we think about them carefully, we will find that our preconceived ideas about them may be wrong. I will address this in upcoming posts. As usual, I do not stay with a subject exclusively, so I beg your indulgence for my regular digressions to things that catch my attention or come up indirectly in this endeavor.