Doing Mitzvahs: What Is In It For Me?
Today has presented you with dozens or hundreds of opportunities to perform mitzvahs, and I bet you have performed a bunch of them. A few examples are: interacting kindly with family and friends, prayer, honesty, Torah study, kosher, reciting blessings. Each one of the mitzvahs you performed required some kind of effort and/or sacrifice. For example, it is easier for most people to be self centered and callous to other’s physical and emotional needs and not put in the effort to speak kindly. It seems easier not bother with blessings, kosher, or prayer. Yet, you put in the effort to perform so many mitzvahs. Why?
I think that starting a conversation around the different reasons for performing mitzvahs and different approaches to understanding motivations of general Torah observance could be very helpful. (Practically, we are all motivated and reinforced by different things and there may not be a one size fits all answer - please comment below with other ideas.)
The following approaches come to mind:
1. If I do mitzvahs the Almighty will reward me with good health, family, success, etc.
2. If I don’t perform mitzvahs the Almighty will take away good health, family, success, etc.
3. Mitzvahs are the right thing to do.
4. Mitzvahs are good for me right now
5. Mitzvahs will get me into heaven.
6. Mitzvahs will earn me the respect of my peers
It is likely that we have all observed some mitzvahs for one or all of these reasons at some point in our spiritual journey, and perhaps we bounce between them on a regular basis. Decision making is not binary: typically we act based on a mix of intellectual and emotional reasons. However, I humbly suggest that we insert 30 seconds of introspection here and ask ourselves - what reason or reasons are my primary motivation?
Looking forward to hearing your approach!