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Weekly Parsha

Parshat Tzav

Do we really have free choice? Most people tend to view this as a yes-or-no type of question, but the correct answer is in fact, yes and no:

a) The inner core of the soul is totally at one with G-d.  At this subconscious level, the soul of every Jew wishes to observe all the mitzvos and to avoid transgressing any prohibitions.  There is no desire for evil here; there simply is no other option than doing good.

b) At the conscious level, however, where we interact with the more superficial layers of the soul’s complex psyche, there is room for both good and evil.  Here, the soul’s inner desire to observe all the mitzvos is felt only as a weaker “signal,” which is susceptible to “interference” from the opposing messages of our animalistic instincts.  So, at the conscious level, we do indeed possess free choice.

In general, the Torah speaks to our conscious mind.  We are told to observe the mitzvos with the full awareness of what we are doing, and we are charged with bringing an awareness of spirituality into our normal, daily lives.

However, at this conscious level we are susceptible to being drawn away from a life of holiness or stifled by the limitations that the world appears to present.  So, while most of the mitzvos were given to the conscious part of the soul, G-d saw it necessary to give us some mitzvos which speak directly to the inner core of the soul, helping the soul’s unlimited energy and total commitment to good to flow outwards to the conscious mind.  These special mitzvos help us stay in tune with our subconscious commitment to Judaism, when our conscious observance becomes strained or limited.

With most mitzvos, G-d told Moshe to address the Jewish people with the term (speak) or (say).  While the mitzvos conveyed with these terms are of course obligatory, the more passive, indirect mood of the words “speak” and “say” indicate that these mitzvos are directed at the superficial layers of the soul which possess free choice.

Our Parsha, in contrast, uses the more direct, imperative term (“command”), alluding to a type of mitzvah which speaks to the soul’s inner core that does not possess true free choice, and is simply “commanded” to obey G-d’s will.  These special mitzvos which are included in our Parsha are aimed at helping our inner identity of unquestioning and uninhibited commitment to the Jewish faith surface in everyday life.