The mitzvos of the Torah, says the Maharal (Tiferes
Yisroel, 4) are like a rope that hauls a person up from
the bottomless pit that is the lower world into the upper
world, to "seat him with the King, Hashem Tzevokos,
eye to eye."
With the Torah, we are in daily contact with eternal
spirituality as we observe its limitations, perform its
commandments and study its wisdom. We do not just muck around
in a search and struggle to satisfy our physical needs, but
we constantly haul ourselves up with the Maharal's rope,
higher and higher.
This is not "extra credit." This is the very purpose for
which we were created. This is why Hashem made man, and this
is why each and every one of us was put into the world. If we
fail to progress in this direction, we are not doing our job.
When we do come closer to this wonderful goal, it is no more
than what Hashem intended.
On Lag BaOmer we sing the praises of R' Shimon Bar Yochai,
one of which is, "`Na'ase Odom' was said because of
R' Shimon Bar Yochai is the source of hundreds (perhaps
thousands) of halachic comments throughout the mishna
and gemora. Moreover, he is the primary source of the
esoteric wisdom known as kabolo, including the
Zohar and especially the Idra Rabbo and the
Idra Zutto which describes the great revelations that
R' Shimon made on the day of his passing, as well as the
Tikunei Zohar, seventy discourses based on the first
posuk in the Torah. It is for him and people like him
that Hashem said, as the song we sing on Lag BaOmer notes,
"Let us make man."
R' Shimon was an awesome person, as is clear from the stories
told about him. He was surrounded by a spiritual fire that
kept unworthy people away from him. He was the conduit for
bringing deep knowledge down to earth in a way that
paralleled the task of Moshe Rabbenu, as he is described as
having a "spark" of the soul of Moshe Rabbenu.
He was what man is supposed to be. Although we cannot do what
he did, we can also be what man is supposed to be.
We were made to use our capacities for serving Hashem. The
higher the capacities we use the higher the service we do.
Clearly, the highest service we do is when we use our minds
for avodas Hashem.
Judaism demands a relatively high level of mental
participation in the tasks it gives everyone in daily life.
We have to keep in mind an array of mitzvos and restrictions
as we go about doing whatever we do. When we fulfill a mitzva
we must think about what we do to ensure that we are
fulfilling it properly, and are asked to think further about
what we do, to relate to Hashem Who commanded us to do it and
to how it was commanded, and we should see ourselves as
acting out the words of Hashem as expressed in the Torah that
He gave us. In short, we should do all our mitzvos with
kavono whenever possible (even when it is not a
When we do that, we also live what Hashem intended when He
said, "Let us make man," and we surely pull ourselves ever
higher up the rope to the higher world.
It was this potential, and the means to achieve it, that was
given to us at Mount Sinai. We said na'ase venishma,
then and we reiterate it today.