One of the most counter intuitive dictums of Hebrew wisdom reads “Greater is one who does out of command –(metzuveh) than one who does even though he is not commanded (Eino metzuveh).” Logically, the opposite should be true. Is not the one who does good because of his own moral feeling superior to the one who gives out of a sense of obligation. Respond the wisdom masters – No!
Imagine that one person encountered a poor man on the street and was greatly moved by his plight. Even though he had given him ten percent of his income to charity that year- his heart was so moved that he gave him a hundred dollars. The next year the same two people encounter each other on the street. The poor man is still poor.
This time however our Good Samaritan is in a foul mood and barely has room in his heart to notice the poor man. However he remembers that he has not yet fulfilled the Tzedaka – ‘Just’ Giving – obligation of ten percent of his income. So he perfunctorily gives him a hundred dollars out of a sense of obligation.
Which act of giving was higher? Primarily the second. For in the first case the giving welled up out of his separate sense of self. I who am fortunate will give to you who are not. However in the second case his giving welled up from an essential connection between him and the poor person.
He felt Metzuveh. Usually translated as ‘commanded,’ Metzuveh also has the sense of Tzavtah, meaning ‘To be together with’. In that light let’s re-read the dictum in a beautiful way. “Greater is one who gives out of a sense of Metzuveh –interconnectivity- non dual realization – than one who gives out of sense of’ ‘eyno metzuveh’- disconnection and alienation.
gorgeous day to everyone …..
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