Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Reward for a mitzva
Many people think that the reward for doing a mitzva will come later, at some point after doing it. Now, some people think that they should do the mitzva because of the reward. Others, however, don’t think that way: they see a value in the mitzva independently of the reward, but — they figure — the reward itself will come later as well, since G-d is just and rewards the good deeds.
Both groups are wrong. Doing a mitzva in the physical world — and I don’t care whether it’s something “ritual” (such as lighting Shabbos candles or putting on tefillin) or “ethical” (such as helping a friend in need) — involves meeting the Essence of G-d. It also involves uniting Kadosh Boruchu with Shchintei (Holy One, Blessed be He, with His Name) — i.e., revealing G-d’s Essence in the material world, creating dira b’tachtoinim, dwelling for Him in the lower worlds.
The dira b’tachtoinim part is the objective, altruistic part of the mitzva — the ultimate reason for doing it. But the ultimate reward for it is not the pleasure you’ll experience in the Gan Eiden. It’s the fact that you just met with G-d. Not with the revelation of G-d, not with the Infinite Light, but with its Source, with G-d Himself. With His undefinable, unlimited, unique and ungraspable Essence.
That is the reward.
So, when you have an opportunity to do an “extra” mitzva, don’t be an idiot and start feeling so proud and good about yourself. Be humble and say “thank you”. You’ve just been granted the most intimate, most private yechidus (audience) with the Essence of G-d. It’s a very special gift.
Think about it — when somebody asks you to do a favor, you are doing him a finite favor. But by giving you opportunity to do an extra mitzva and meet G-d one extra time, he is doing you an infinite favor. So, even more than somebody is grateful to you for doing a favor, you should be grateful to him for asking.