G-d Wants the Heart

   Two Rabbis observed that they studied six times more Torah and had a broader Torah scholarship than another Rabbi.  In contrast, the other Rabbi received immediate answers to prayer while they received none.  They conclude that greatness was not due to proficiency in Torah as much as from a heart turned to Hashem.  G-d desires the heart.1


      Nothing endures without a good foundation.  No matter how magnificent a building’s appearance, to last it must be built on a solid foundation.  Without the intent to “love your fellow as yourself” the rest of the mitzvoth, as impressive as they may appear, are secondary.  The same is true with man’s relationship with G-d.  “The fulfillment of one mitzvah may be considered equal to the fulfillment of many other mitzvahs, depending on the heart and on the intent.”2


   It is normal for a Baal Teshuvah to focus on the do’s and don’ts of the law.  They are visible, tangible and measurable.  Dedication of the heart is not.  Observing the law is the building, but the foundation is a heart turned to Hashem.  To fear Him and seek to serve Him with all one’s heart, soul, and might.3  Without that, the law is just rules of behavior that define a culture.


   To the owner of a business, tracking every penny is important.  In contrast, a hired bookkeeper sees only numbers on the page.  The business owner is not motivated by the actual pennies.  He cares about the success of the business which is dependant on cash flow.  He carefully watches every penny because of a greater motive. He is the “master of accounts.” 


   Tanya4 mentions the “master of accounts.”  The master of accounts is concerned with each of his thoughts, remarks and actions.  He is concerned with both the Law as well as his motives.  Let all your deeds be for the sake of heaven.5


  He notes if he prays from obedience and to unite his soul with G-d or to impress others. He notes if he observes a mitzvoth to please G-d or to please his family or community.  He knows that if his motives are right than he is headed in the right direction and will grow into the do’s and don’ts.


   The story is told of a man who had to journey to a distant town.  Not knowing the way, he was told to follow the signposts.  At every crossroads he followed the signpost which pointed to his destination.


   One day he came to a crossroads of many trails. However, the signpost had been uprooted and was lying on its side. Starting to replace the post in its hole he didn’t know which way it was supposed to point.  At first filled with despair, he quickly realized the solution.  He turned the signpost until the proper arrow pointed in the direction from which he had been walking. Now he knew precisely which road to take.

   Knowing where one came from is important to knowing where one is going.

1. Sanhedrin 106b

2. Duties of the Heart, Introduction, R. Bachya ben Joseph ibn Paquda

3. Deuteronomy 6:5

4. Tanya, Likutei Amareim, Ch. 29

5. Pirket Avot 2:12

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