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Kenneth Cohen

Beautifying Mitzvot

The experience of the splitting of the Red Sea was miraculous on many levels. Every Jew that was there, experienced a certain level of prophecy.

The Midrash tells us that even nursing babies, were able to sing praises to G-d. They, too, were able to utter the words, זה א-לי ואנונו, “This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him.”

Aside from these words expressing great affection for the Creator, there is another message learned from this. This refers to the manner in which we are meant to “glorify G-d.”

These words are the source to beautify the Mitzvot that we observe. The analogy here is similar to one who receives a gift from a loved one. If the gift is generous, and it is clear that a great deal of thought went into choosing this gift, it is most appreciated. On the other hand, if the gift received is cheap, and poorly wrapped, the recipient will only feel that person was “only going through the motions.”

The same idea applies to how we serve G-d. Do we do everything in the minimum, just to get it done? Or do we perform each Mitzva generously. Do we give the maximum when it comes to charity, and other acts of kindness? If certain religious items cost money, such as Succa, Lulav, Mezuza, Tefillin, etc., do we try to beautify these Mitzvot, or just get by?

This is what is meant by הידור מצוה, beautifying the Mitzvot. Because this is my G-d, and I will glorify Him.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at www.cafehebrew.com