In honor of Beis Nissan
Mobile user/Download link: Episode 1: The Philosophy of Chabad- The Ultimate Question
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Series:The Philosophy of ChabadEpisode 1:The Ultimate QuestionQuestion for Discussion:Does G-d Need Your Mitzvos?We are dealing here with the ultimate fundamental question. This is not something we can dismiss easilyor be half-hearted about. This is it.For thousands of years we have mesiras nefesh to do the mitzvos and not to do aveiros. To then be toldthat G-d himself doesn’t necessarily need the mitzvah doesn’t sound right at all. You can’t be inspired ifHe is not, you can’t serve Him if He doesn’t even really want you to! Even to say G-d that wants you toserve Him and He wants the mitzvah on a certain level, but really deep down G-d doesn’t need it, etc.,that’s like saying, “Don’t take it seriously.”Unless, of course, you want to get Gan Eden; you want to be a Tzadik because you want a reward. Inthat case, as badly as you want the reward, that’s how seriously you are going to take the mitzvos. Butthen what does the Mishna (Avot 1:3) mean to not do a mitzvah for the reward? If I am not doing themitzvah for the reward and G-d doesn’t necessarily need it, what am I doing? It’s either for me or for Him—it can’t be for nobody!Now, if you look at the Mishna, before you even get to Chassidus, the mishna puts the message into acontext. What is the context? Don’t be like a servant who serves his master for the sake of the reward,etc. Why do you have the mashal of a servant and a master; why don’t you simply say don’t do themitzvos for the reward?The context is important because it explains the sense and the reasoning behind the message: Whyshould we not do mitzvos for the reward? If not for the reward, then for what? The mashal is teaching usthat a servant serves his master without the thought of a reward because he is serving his master. Inother words, by knowing that the master is getting what he needs, I don’t need to get something I needbecause his pleasure is all the reward I need. But if there is no Rav, there is no master, and I am notdoing anything for him, then why I should do a mitzvah without thought of a reward?So, the Mishna is telling you don’t need more reward than knowing that what you’re doing for the Eibishteris what He needs. To then come along and say, “But He doesn’t need…,” well then what are we left with?People are justifiably uncomfortable with the word “need” if you apply it to the Eibishter because thatsounds like a contradiction. The reason He is G-d is because He doesn’t need anything, so if He needshow is He G-d?It’s a good question, but you can’t avoid the logic of saying that there is something in it for G-d. “Brieshisbara elokim es hashamayim ves haretz…” Nu? He didn’t need it? We certainly didn’t need it—we weren’teven created yet.Now, you can say that G-d doesn’t need it for Himself; He only created the world because we wouldeventually benefit, and He wants to do what’s best for us. Some use a mashal that G-d is like a fatherwho is trying to do what’s best for his kid: A father doesn’t need to do what’s best for his kid, but he wantsto; it’s just for his kid. But still, there is obviously an interest, an investment that the father is makingbecause of who he is. No one else but a father is that interested in his kid. When it comes to G-d, iscreating the world for our benefit not an investment because of who He is? And how badly does He wantto do what’s best for us? Partially, whole heartedly, infinitely? So, you can’t get away from it.