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    The musical quality of the mitzvot – Ki Tetzei

    This week’s parashah contains a very large number of commandments.

    Rav Kook said that every commandment has a unique musical quality which makes us want to sing, a wonderful comment which echoes a verse in the Psalms – “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (Psalm 119:54).

    Before looking at the word “songs” let us explain that “the house of my pilgrimage” denotes “my earthly journey”.

    The reference to singing is because every time that the believer observes a mitzvah, he or she feels such joy that they want to sing.

    If we test this idea in regard to praying to God or supporting a fellow human being we can fully understand it. Being in the presence of God is a source of ecstasy; improving the lot of another person gives us a feeling of satisfaction.

    But how about, for example, the rule of sha’atnez, which forbids us to combine certain textiles, or not carrying things on Shabbat outside specified boundaries?

    Borrowing an idea from Rav Soloveitchik’s great work, “Halakhic Man”, we can answer that when we fulfil mitzvot of this kind we help to establish the kind of world that God wants, where every person and every thing has its place.

    Fulfilling God’s plans for the Creation is exhilarating and has, as Rav Kook says, “a unique musical quality”.

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