Shifting Our Gaze

Shifting Our Gaze

If I’m able to make up a missed mitzvah, why do I need to do mitzvos every day?

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Shifting Our Gaze    
The purpose of Torah and mitzvos is to refine and cleanse the material world.   ח) אַךְ הָעִנְיָן הוּא, דְהִנֵה יָדוּעַ שְׁהַתַּכְלִית דְתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת הוּא לִפְעוֹל בִּירוּר וְזִיכוּךְ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶה הַגַשְׁמִי.
Most people live a lifestyle —or want to live a lifestyle—based on their personal philosophy—preconceived notions of how the world works, of what others think of us, the definition of success, etc. These beliefs form the backbone for the way we think and behave—how we dress, what car we drive and who we marry. When we learn Torah, our minds adjust to it. Our thinking becomes Torah thinking and our behavior becomes Torah behavior. Our outlook changes, our definitions of love, life and success change. Torah is G-d’s will and wisdom—and when we learn it, our whole self-becomes one with Him. Our learning ripples throughout our entire lifestyle and overflows to our surroundings. Eventually, the people we meet, the cities and countries we live in are affected by Torah—the atmosphere changes.
Torah is not “in the heavens,”—it’s in this world with a specific purpose. Our Rabbis tell us that the Torah was given to make peace in the world. And that the only reason why the Torah was given is to refine the creations.   דְזֶהוּ מַה שְׁתּוֹרָה ״לֹא בַּשָׁמַיִם הִיא״62, וְכָל הַתּוֹרָה נִיתְּנָה לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם בָּעוֹלָם63, וְעֲל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַּמָּה מִצְווֹת שֶׁלֹא נִיתְּנוּ אֶלָא לְצַרֵף בָּהֶן אֶת הַבְּרִיוֹת64.
The Torah is the blueprint for creation and it’s also the tool we use to refine it. The Creator of the universe created a functioning world. With His instruction, we can learn to optimize creation.

Torah and mitzvos were given for three reasons:

a) To refine creation and uplift physical existence.

b) To be a bridge between finite creations and the Infinite G-d.

c) To give us the opportunity to do G-d’s will. If not for this G-d-given opportunity, our actions would be meaningless.

In this ma’amer, the Rebbe is focusing on the first reason: how Torah and mitzvos uplift physical existence. More specifically, we’re going to focus on the mitzvah of tzedaka.

Upgrade Existence    
The purpose of mitzvos— and the purpose of the soul’s descent into a body—is to align the body, animal soul, and our environment with holiness. This is especially true of tzedakah, charity. In fact, the Yerushalmi refers to tzedaka simply as “the mitzvah.”   וְעַד שֶׁמִצְוַת צְדָקָה הִיא שְׁקוּלָה כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הַמִצְווֹת (וְנִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם מִצְוָה סְתַּם), כִּי הַתַּכְלִית דְמִצְווֹת [וְכֵן הַתַּכְלִית דְיְרִידַת הַנְשָׁמָה לְמַטָה] שְׁהוּא [לֹא בִּשְׁבִיל הַנְשָׁמָה כִּי אִם] בִּכְדֵי לְתַקֵן אֶת הַגוּף וְנֶפֶשׁ הַבַּהַמִית וְחֶלְקוֹ בָּעוֹלָם, נִשְׁלָם עַל יְדֵי מִצְוַת הַצְדָקָה (יוֹתֵר מֵאֲשֶׁר עַל יְדֵי שְׁאָר כָּל הַמִצְווֹת), כְּמְבוּאָר בְּתַּנְיָא65.
If the purpose of mitzvos is to uplift physical existence, then tzedaka is arguably the greatest mitzvah. Our souls’ purpose and the purpose of mitzvos is to refine our selves—our animal souls—and our environments.

What is tzedakah? We give away our money—the product of our time and energy—to a cause. In doing so, all the effort we placed in making that money—our toil, sweat, even the calories we burnt—becomes uplifted and G-dly. (Tanya, ch. 37)

This is why we need to do mitzvos every day and why our days aren’t complete if we don’t. Existence is made up of time and space. The world—our surroundings—needs to be uplifted by Torah and so does time. Time needs to be aligned with holiness too.   וְזֶהוּ66שְׁצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת יוֹמִין שְׁלֵימִין דַוְקָא, שְׁבְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת קִיוּם מִצְוָה, כִּי מְכֵּיוָן שְׁגֶדֶר הָעוֹלָם הוּא מָקוֹם וּזְמַן67, הַרֵי מוּבָן שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת (שְׁתַּכְלִיתָם הוּא לְתַקֵן אֶת הָעוֹלָם) צְרִיכִים לְתַקֵן גַּם אֶת הַזְמַן.
Physicality consists of time and space. The space we inhabit becomes holy when we fill it with mitzvos—holy objects, when we learn Torah aloud, etc. Time itself also needs refinement and this happens when we do mitzvos in their allotted time.
Mitzvos need to be done every day to fix every day. Time itself needs to be rectified. Although certain mitzvos can be made up the next day, to align time itself with holiness, everyday needs the mitzvos for that day.   וְלָכֵן מוּכְרָח שְׁבֶּכָל יוֹם תִּהְיֶ’ה עַשִׂייַת מִצְוָה (הַגַם שְׁגַם כְּשֶׁחָסֵר לוֹ יוּמָא חַדָא יָכוֹל הוּא לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַלְבוּשׁ עַל יְדֵי שֶׁיְקַיֵים מָחָר בּ’ מִצְווֹת), כִּי בִּכְדֵי לְתַקֵן אֶת הַיָמִים68(הַזְמַן) גוּפָא צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כָּל69יוּמָא וְיוּמָא עָבִיד עֲבִידָתֵי’הּ.
Certain mitzvos can be made up even on the following day. To bring an example from the previous section of this ma’amer, a missed davening can be made up in the following time slot. Without getting into the specifics of the halachos involved: If someone missed a mincha for reasons beyond his control, he can make it up during the next time slot which is ma’ariv. During that ma’ariv, he could say an additional Shmoneh Esrei in place of the missed mincha. Ma’ariv is already considered the next calendar day, so we see that mitzvos can be made up even on different days. However, for the purpose of refining time itself, the mitzvah needs to happen in its allotted time slot.
Torah and mitzvos were created to create peace in the world and uplift physical existence. Tzedaka specifically is the greatest mitzvah because it uplifts all the time and effort we put into making the money. Since we give up money we could have spent on our needs, when we give, we give our very life. Mitzvos need to be done every day because time itself needs to be rectified. Just like any other aspect of existence, time needs to be refined and uplifted.

54. ברכות כו, ב.

55. פינחס כח, ג.

56. תו”א מקץ לח, ג.

57. אוה”ת לתהלים שם.

58. או”ח סי’ קח.

59. שו”ע אדה”ז שם ס”ב.

60. תניא בקו”א ד”ה להבין מ”ש בשער היחודים (קנד, ב).

61. לקו”ת בהר מא, א.

62. ב”מ נט, ב.

63. רמב”ם סוף הל’ חנוכה.

64. ב”ר פמ”ד, א.

65. פל”ז (מח, ב).

66. אוה”ת משפטים ע’ א’קכב. שבועות ע’ צא. בלק ס”ע תתקמח. פינחס ע’ א’קצט. וראה בארוכה לקו”ש ח”ד ע’ 1194.

67. שעהיוה”א פ”ז (פב, רע”א). וע”פ מ”ש בתורת לוי”צ למסכת מדות (ריש ע’ רעג), שמקום הוא בז”א וזמן הוא במלכות – עיקר הענין דדירה בתחתונים שאין תחתון למטה ממנו הוא בבירור ותיקון הזמן.

68. ומה שעיקר ההדגשה הוא על הימים (וראה תורת הבעש”ט שבתחילת המאמר) – הוא (כמבואר בלקו”ש שם) לפי שבהם הוא עיקר ההתחלקות דזמן, כמרז”ל (נזיר ז, א) “יומי מפסקי מהדדי”. ולהעיר מאוה”ת בלק שם ואילך.

69. ע”פ לשון הזהר – ח”ג צד, ב.

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