Mendy Kaminker

Should I do a Mitzvah for ulterior motives?


Rabbi, there is something good I want to do, but I am not sure that my intentions are so pure. I might have an ulterior motive for doing this Mitzvah. Should I still do it? Will G-d even reward me if I do it?


It’s beautiful to hear that 1) you want to do a Mitzvah and 2) you want to do it wholeheartedly. Doing a Mitzvah purely for the sake of G-d is a great value we should all aspire to.

But we have to be careful. Because sometimes, our Yetzer Harah (evil inclination) uses it as a delaying tactic.

For example, we are about to do a Mitzvah, and this Mitzvah will bring much good to the world, but suddenly we hear this seemingly holy voice inside of us. “Wait, are you doing it for the right reasons? Maybe your Mitzvah is coming from a selfish place?”

So we hesitate and altogether let go of the opportunity to do the Mitzvah.

That inner voice was obviously not from a holy source. It was a voice trying to stop us from doing good.

Now that we understand this, it becomes easier to tell when our inner voice is genuinely guiding us versus when it may be misleading us.

Anything that tries to stop us from doing good is not coming from a good place.

Our Parsha presents two powerful teachings about this idea.

The first teaching emphasizes the importance of not letting anything deter us from performing a Mitzvah:

When the Jews escaped Egypt, they encountered two wars within a very short time. One was with the Egyptians, trying to recapture them as slaves. The other one was with the nation of Amalek.

But while the Torah commands us to treat the Egyptians nicely, we are told to remember the action of Amalek forever.

Why? Amalek attacked the Jews on their way to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Trying to stop us from doing good is unforgivable!

The second teaching is about the importance of action:

The Midrash relates how, if a person lost money and a poor person found it, it is considered a Mitzvah of helping the poor, and G-d will bless them for it.

Think about it. The person who lost the money was most likely upset about the loss. And they had no idea what happened to the money. Yet, because the money ended up going for a good cause, it’s still considered a Mitzvah!

So in short, here is my answer: just do it.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of
Related Topics
Related Posts