Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Grossman asserts that she does not eat bread on Passover because she “loves God.” Her metaphor pulls at my heart but it also pulls on my brain. Do we really believe that God asks us to practice mitzvot in the same way a lover asks us to take out the garbage? Is God that pathetic? Is God that sycophantic? I am moved by Rabbi Grossman’s claim that she observes mitzvot such as chametz because of her own emotional connection. I, too, think that an emotional and personal connection to mitzvot is important. But ultimately mitzvot are about creating a certain type of human being and being commanded demands that one be free to choose whether or not to observe the commandment. Mitzvot are not there to engender a masochistic personality but rather a freely-choosing spiritual being who decides to opt in or opt out. Mitzvot encourages us to make “choosing” the focus of our lives. As Maimonides’ emphasis on free choice suggests: Jewish law is not about obedience as much as it is about cultivating a free choosing individual.

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