Last post I discussed the matter of Ahavat Yisrael (Love of the Jewish People) as the core t'shuvah for Jews. In this section I'm going to discuss how this is expressed by a return to faithfulness to keep mitzvot.
Each and every mitzvah, whether d'oraita or d'rabbanan, is a gift. It is only at a very basic level that the mitzvot serve to "control" behavior. To quote Bill Johnson (though he may cringe at the thought of me applying these words to mitzvot) they help to "anchor our affections in a world we cannot see." They do more than that though, they bring the order and structure of that Kingdom into this world. Each and every time a Jew says a b'racha he/she is acting as a steward for God's kingdom, acknowledging His sovereignty and will. Every time we recite "asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav" over something not explicitly in TaNaKh we acknowledge the appointment of our Sages as our leaders, those who "sit in Moses' seat" (Mt 23:2). The term, "observance," is quite appropriate in this sense: the performance of a mitzvah is a response to the observation that God is in charge, worthy of praise, the One who sets the standard for our lives.
Mitzvot are also the common context for our communal life. We most often gather together for Shabbat, Chagim, Bar/Bat Mitzvot, Circumcisions, etc. This is because mitzvot are also manifestations of our care for one another. Whether it's giving someone a meal, showing our parents honor, not humiliating an opponant, teaching someone a b'racha, showing up for a shiva minyan, etc. we are participating in the life God wanted for us when we were given the Torah in the first place, the life Yeshua intended/intends for us.
May this season stir in us a new love for the physical acts that are reflections of:
1. The love God has for us
2. The love we have for God
3. The love we have for one another