Doing the Easy Mitzvos

by | Sep 24, 2001 | 0 comments

There will come a time when the Nations of the world will realize that without Mitzvos their lives are not complete. They will complain to G-d of his unfairness and beg Him for a second chance. Hashem will respond, “I have an easy Mitzvah called Sukkah”. Build yourselves a Sukkah and you too will have a Mitzvah. They built their Sukkahs, but the sun came out, the heat went up and everyone ran out of their sukos kicking them as they ran.
Although the experiment worked, and G-d’s point was well made, it always seemed odd to me that G-d would give the nations of the world an ‘easy’ Mitzvah. After all we’ve endured as a people, all the Kidush Hashem that we have undergone why didn’t G-d ask the Goyim to do an Akeidas Yitzchok, or a Lech Lecho? Even if they would have been able to perform the Mitzvah of sukkah would that merit them Olam Haba?

The answer is that they may very well be able to do an Akeidas Yitzchok. They may be able to save lives. But giving up ones life is not what Judaism is all about. It’s about the day to day lifestyle. It’s about the ‘easy’ mitzvahs that don’t have the same romantic appeal as the ones that get on the front page of the Times. The Mitzvos of self-sacrifice draw upon the reservoirs of our soul but the small everyday tasks of being Jewish draw upon the rest of us. G-d must be integrated into our whole life, not just our soul, before He effects the way we talk, the way we walk and the way we conduct business.

At a conversion process the Beis Din asks the convert whether they are willing to accept the big, difficult mitzvos. Would you be willing to die for Judaism? Would you move from your home? Go to war? We then ask the convert if they are willing to accept the mitzvos kalos. Are you willing to stay away from Muktza on Shabbos? Are you willing to dress modestly? To greet everyone with a smile? If the convert accepts, we proceed with the conversion.

I’ve often questioned the wisdom of our sages. If the potential Ger is willing to die for Judaism can’t we just assume that they will not wear Shaatnez? The answer is that no such assumption can be made. Because to commit to big things is to draw upon the soul. The small things, however, require total commitment. The small things are really the biggest Mitzvos of them all.

G-d gave the nations the Mitzvah of Sukkah. He says to them, I know you can daven, I know you can sacrifice your children but can you leave your home for a week? Can you live without the toys and the gimmicks that shelter us from reality? Can you get by without the TV? Can you make it on your own without all the props and creature comforts? Are you an independent person that can get through the day without the life support? The ‘easy’ Sukkah will distinguish the men from the boys.

For us, Sukos is the time to become real men and women. It is time for us to produce a genuine smile and sincere chesed. To stop being reliant on the things in our home for peace and happiness. We have to draw upon our whole selves for the energy to act kindly, perfect our midos and to always act with integrity.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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