Two important commandments contained in this week’s Torah reading are side by side? Why is that? What is the connection?
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Ki Teitzei” (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) and it contains over 70 different mitzvot (Torah commandments). In other words, over 10 percent of all the mitzvot of the Torah can be found in this single reading!
Ki Teitzei contains more mitzvot than any other Torah portion. One of these is the mitzvah of “Shilu’ach Ha’ken” –to “send away a mother bird,” which is followed by the mitzvah of “Ma’akeh,” to erect a fence on one’s roof (so that nobody falls off and gets killed!).
The Midrash (rabbinic literature) says that the reason these two mitzvot are side by side is to teach us that the reward for “sending away the mother bird” is that one will be blessed with a home in which one will be able to fulfill the mitzvah of erecting a fence on one’s roof. In other words, the reward for performing mitzvot is the ability to do even more mitzvot!
This is not the only example in this week’s reading of the reward for one mitzvah enabling the fulfillment another. The sages teach that proper observance of the laws of farming are rewarded with fine clothing, which allows one to observance the various mitzvot relating to clothes, such as the mitzvah of tzitzit – placing fringes on one’s four cornered garments.
I believe that the lesson of “one mitzvah leads to another” is much deeper than a pat-on-the-back-feel-good type of encouragement. The deeper message is that all of our possessions can and must be used for good things, for serving God, for mitzvot. God did not simply give you a house in order that you should have a place to sleep and eat, but rather, so that you could ensure that OTHERS can sleep at eat as well! Did God give you a car? Well, maybe you should be using your car to help others who have difficulty getting from place to place.
As we can see, we even serve God with our clothes, by putting fringes on the corners where required and ensuring that our clothes do not contain forbidden fibers.
But returning to the idea of one mitzvah leading to another: How does it work?
The sages teach that we create an angel every time we do a mitzvah. This angel then looks to show its appreciation for having been created by arranging the opportunity for us to do yet another mitzvah, and so on. The reverse is also true, and unfortunately, one sin leads to another. As such, let us take these two simple messages form this week’s Torah reading, that one mitzvah leads to another, and that all of our possessions can be used for much, much more that we might think!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below: