In Israel it is often said when one does something for someone else: It is a mitzvah. Deeds we count as mitzvah always have to do with the will of the Eternal. Doing things we know are His will. It is precisely through keeping Torah that we get a grip on what the Eternal believes to be important for us to be doing and how we can organize our lives so that He approves of it. Rabbi Abraham Chill, rabbi of Newburgh and Nashville in the 1950s, writes in his book The Mitzvot, “What is a mitzvah and what is its content? It would be too simple to call a mitzvah a command. A mitzvah should be something that touches your soul.”
Maimonides lived in Egypt around 1200. He saw the mitzvah from another side and saw doing mitzvot as a source of joy, but also a means of dealing with the bad tendencies – yetser hara – to curb a person. By doing the mitzvot, we can say amen to these meanings, because when you do them you can understand this better and you grow spiritually. To follow Messiah Yeshua and knowing what He thinks, is important in doing mitzvot; a wonderful challenge. He wants us to keep the Shabbat, the Feasts of the Eternal, the dietary laws, respecting other people and act upon it, pay attention to our speech regarding each other and the Lord, etc. Enough to do in order to grow in His love.
That gift of mitzvot and following Yeshua is something Adonai has given to Israel, the People and the land of Israel, right where it is in the Middle East. See how it is threatened and understand why. It has promises for all of humanity. I asked a young woman – following this road – why she does not cut the hair of her young son. She told me that it had to do with doing a mitzvah. It moved me. She said the following: “I had the desire to have a son. In the prayer of Channah it says that she pledges to return her son to the Eternal and no hair on his head should be shaved”
She continued, “This vow took three years and that has to do with the mitzvah of orla in Leviticus 19.23, you do not prune a tree for three years. A righteous man is compared in Psalm 1 with a tree planted by water currents. This tree needs good soil, water, air, heat and sun. A person needs a good foundation of Yeshua Messiah and water of the Torah. Each time I see his hair, which in society is not quite common for a boy, it reminds me that I will raise him in Torah, so that he may bear fruit like a tree planted by water.” It is a privilege to do mitzvot in this manner!
Greetings and live a good new year in 2019,
Elze Erwteman, editor-in-chief