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Temple Israel of Scranton

Temple Israel of Scranton

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Parashat Ki Tetzei: The Chain of Mitzvot

Posted on August 28, 2020

8 Elul 5780
August 28th 2020
Rabbi Miriam T. Spitzer
Parashat Ki Tetzei: The Chain of Mitzvot

The rabbis teach that מִצְוָה גּוֹרֶרֶת מִצְוָה, doing a mitzvah leads to . . . the opportunity to perform another mitzvah. One of the classic examples is from our parashah for this week and comes to explain why seemingly random laws follow each other in rapid succession in parashat ki tetzei. A person who obeys the command not to take a mother bird and the baby birds on the same day (Deut. 22:8) will merit building a new house, and thus will be able to build a safety fence on the roof of that new house (Deut. 22:9). Then that person will merit planting a vineyard and will be able to fulfill the next mitzvah which is not to sow the vineyard with a second kind of seed (Deut. 22:10).

Normally this is easy. We perform the mitzvah of going to shul and that leads us to perform the mitzvah of hakhnasat orhim, welcoming guests, by inviting people home with us or by being invited home with someone else. Then we join together for a meal, make brakhot/blessings before and after eating, celebrate the joy of shabbat together, and so on. But, of course, now is not “normally”. 

This Elul we are all challenged to find ways that one mitzvah might lead to another mitzvah. 

One thing that has been working for me — I go to our Zoom minyan in the morning and there I hear about events in the community, perhaps a death that has occurred or a person who has gone into the hospital or someone who is celebrating a simhah, a joyous event. That leads me to be able to make a phone call and fulfill the mitzvah of comforting the mourner or (virtually) visiting the sick or wishing mazal tov for the simhah.  (The truth is, I really wish that as rabbi people let me know these things directly and not wait till I happen to find out at minyan, but it is a good example of מִצְוָה גּוֹרֶרֶת מִצְוָה anyway.) 

Something else that works for me — I read a Jewish book and that leads to me read another Jewish book. Or I find a compelling Jewish article and post it on my Facebook page, allowing me to reach and share with others. Articles also lead to other articles, often many other articles. The same would be true with podcasts. I tend to read more than I listen, but you may find listening easier, and that may lead you to other Jewish learning and sharing. 

And so, I present a challenge. How do you make מִצְוָה גּוֹרֶרֶת מִצְוָה happen this year? What is your string of mitzvot? What mitzvah motivates you to another mitzvah and another one? I’d love to hear. Come to minyan or havdalah or drop me an email and let me know!