Whole and Willing

For want of a nail , the shoe was lost:

For want of the shoe , the horse was lost;

For want of the horse , the rider was lost;

For want of the rider , the battle was lost;

For want of the battle , the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a nail.


   Can an imperfect man unite with G-d who is perfect and complete?1  All Jews comprise one another.2   When one hates another Jew he actually shuts out part of himself.  G-d must be approached with one’s whole self not with a part.  He brings 600,000 souls and if a man brings only 599,999 it is not a whole.  G-d wants a whole not a partial.


   Who then could ever approach G-d?  Conflict with another is inevitable.  G-d made us and knows us.  He does not require an absence of conflict.  In fact, He gave laws to deal with situations of conflict.  He also gave us the 243rd mitzvah: “Love your fellow man as yourself.” 3  Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the Alter Rebbe) taught that before praying one should say “I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzvah, ‘Love your fellowman as yourself’.” Only then should a Jew ask G-d to fulfill his needs.  Most people fail shortly after taking on that commitment.  Most important is not the perfect fulfillment of the mitzvah but the willingness to try again and again to the best of one’s ability.


   The same is true with all of Jewish law.  Halacha is the anchor around which Judaism revolves.  It does not change, it does not deviate, and it remains the same.  Otherwise Judaism could be anything.  There would be no limits and no set of beliefs could be excluded.  It could be Hinduism or Christianity, whatever a Jew became involved in.


   Does G-d really expect us to do perform all the mitzvoth?  Does He really expect Jews to be able to study constantly?  Only rare individuals are able to keep the entire law and not be tempted by the world.      


   G-d does not expect an individual to fulfill the entire law in a single lifetime.  His desire is that we recognize Him and aspire to keep His entire law.  We may fail and repent but we desire to succeed the best we are able. This is in contrast to those who discard part of His law as “not relevant.”


   G-d wants willingness. With willingness comes the ability to grow, and to do one more mitzvah.  The knowledge of one’s need to grow leads to the ability to forgive others for their need to grow.

1. Derech Hashem Part 1, Ch. 1, Section 5.

2. Mitzvoth Ahavas Yisrael, pp 24-27

3. Leviticus 19:18






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