Don’t tell ME what to do!!
“Moshe took the Book of the Covenant and read it in earshot of the people and they said…Everything that G-d has said, WE WILL DO AND WE WILL OBEY!” (Exodus/Shemos 24:7)
We are are continuing our weekly Series:
Today, we are learning, how Parsha Mishpatim speaks to those who seek Serenity and Recovery.
As we follow the narrative of the Jewish People from the time they spent as brutalized slaves in Egypt – to the demonstration of G-d’s awesome Power thru the 10 Plagues – to their liberation from Egypt and the Splitting of the Sea – we witness the eternal consummation of G-d’s love of the Jewish People at the Mount Sinai – compared by our sages to the Wedding Canopy. The Jews came face to face with G-d and received His Ten Commandments like the bride receives the wedding ring from the groom.
And just like after every wedding ceremony, the happy couple is supposed to enjoy their honeymoon, where the couple can just relax by the pool, sleep in and leisurely tour the scenery of whatever vacation spot they visit.
Isn’t that the story of the new bride – the Jewish People? No way!! In fact, their darling husband, G-d Almighty immediately delivers 53 more Rules (Commandments) to define precisely what was expected of them if they want to keep their relationship with Him. I don’t know about you, but a couple of months ago the Jewish slaves had Egyptian masters…now they’ve got another Master! Where’s the Freedom they were promised?
How could the Jewish People so quickly have said, “We will do and we will obey?” Isn’t it basic human nature to abhor rules and seek unlimited freedom? The Jews didn’t tell Pharaoh that they will do and they will obey him! What are these Mitzvahs? How are we to understand them? And how can they bring us closer to G-d?
NOW, let’s consider what the Parsha can teach those seeking Character Development and Recovery...
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with G-d, as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out” (Step 11 – Big Book pg 59)
The simple meaning of the word mitzvah is command. It appears in various forms with that meaning about 300 times in the Five Books of Moses. The Talmud mentions that the Jewish People were given 613 mitzvot at Sinai, and numerous codes—most notably, Maimonides’ Sefer Hamitzvot —provide detailed listings. Examples include such diverse acts as having children, declaring G‑d’s oneness, resting on the seventh day, not eating pork, wrapping tefillin on the arm and head, building a Temple in Jerusalem, appointing a king, obeying the sages and providing an interest-free loan.
In common usage, a mitzvah often means “a good deed”—as in “Do a mitzvah and help Mrs. Goldstein with her packages.” This usage is quite old—the Jerusalem Talmud commonly refers to any charitable act as “the mitzvah.”
But check this out!
The word mitzvah is related to the Aramaic word tzavta, meaning to attach or join or link together!
In this sense, a mitzvah unites and connects the person who is commanded to the Commander, creating a relationship and essential bond.
What good are they?
Everyone agrees that G‑d didn’t provide arbitrary “make-work” schemes. Mitzvot have a practical benefit for the person who does them as well as for the entire world.
The Chinuch, an influential work composed by an anonymous author in 13th-century Spain, is the most complete presentation of mitzvot in this role as a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy for the human species. “Attitudes are molded,” writes the author, “more by what people do than by what they think about.”
When we take a closer look at the 12 Steps, we can observe something very interesting. And it sheds great light on the how we are able to find so much success thru the Program. Simply read all of the 12 Steps on page 59. And count how many times you can find the word G-d or reference to Him. And we find “G-d” in SIX of the TWELVE Steps! And from this we can learn that our success depends on building a 50/50 Partnership with our Higher Power! Yes, it may seem ironic to most of us. But, now we can really appreciate how…
TRUE FREEDOM IS FOUND NOT BY THOSE WHO DEPEND ON THEMSELVES, BUT RATHER BY THOSE WHO DEPEND ON A POWER GREATER THAN THEMSELVES!
The 12 Step Program has brought Recovery and Sobriety to literally millions of those trapped in Compulsive Behaviors and addiction since 1939. Isn’t it time that we commit to learning this simple program of ACTION – as it is called. By doing so, we can break free of our Compulsive Behaviors and personal bondage to our disease!
By learning the Program and with G-d’s help, we can clear our head of our self-centered character defects and finally bring into alignment our positive thoughts with positive actions!!