We see here a multifaceted approach to Mitzvot where the same action has many purposes but mostly to educate and change our way of thinking while also developing our ethical sense and imposing controls and our natural urges.
As is typical of Rambam, the philosophical and Halachik go hand in hand. Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvot begins laying down fourteen rules on the conditions a commandment must meet to be counted as a mitzvah that make up the traditional 613 Mitzvot that were given to Moshe. The significance and the high level of importance that Rambam assigns to this number is a lengthy discussion which I will leave for another time. What interests us here is the fourth Shoresh or basic rule.
Although the Torah seems to be commanding us specifically to be holy, holiness is not counted as a separate Mitzvah. It is a generalized explanation and reason for our keeping Mitzvot in general. Some Mitzvot have as their central focus holiness such as those in sefer Kedusha, but every Mitzvah has a component of holiness in it – namely separation from our natural narcissistic and self-serving urges and tendencies by imposing and demanding self-control. For a Mitzvah to be counted, the specific commandment must be identified as a sub-category within the whole corpus of Mitzvot with its own identifiable teaching and character other than the ones applicable to all Mitzvot. I wonder whether that in itself points to the fact that there must be a rational reason for each commandment and therefore they cannot be arbitrary.
In following posts, I want to understand why the Torah at times is specific and offers a reason for a Mitzvah while at others it does not.