3×2 Constant Mitzvos

There Chinuch famously states in his introduction that there are six mitzvos that because they refer to a state of mind, can be performed constantly or perpetually. (At least, while awake; I won’t speak to whether you fulfill them while sleeping.)

… והחיוב של אלו לעשותן אינו בכל עת רק בזמנים ידועים מן השנה או מן היום. חוץ מששה מצוות מהן שחיובן תמידי, לא יפסק מעל האדם אפילו רגע בכל ימיו, ואלו הן:
א. להאמין בשם.
ב. שלא להאמין זולתו.
ג. לייחדו.
ד. לאהבה אותו.
ה. ליראה אותו.
ו. שלא לתור אחר מחשבת הלב וראיית העינים.
סימנם “שש ערי מקלט תהיינה לכם.” [במדבר לה:יג]

… and the obligation of these [270 mitzvos that all Jews are obligated in, regardless of other causes] are not at all seasons, rather at known times of the year or of the day. Except for six mitzvos of them that their obligation is constant; they do not pause from bearing on a person even one minute of his whole life. And they are:

  1. To believe in G-d
  2. Not to believe in anything but Him
  3. To [declare] His Unity
  4. To love Him
  5. To feel yir’ah (fear / awe) of Him
  6. Not to veer after the thoughts of the heart and the sights of the eyes.

Their symbol is “six cities of refuge you shall have for yourselves.” (Bamidbar 35:13)

The Beiur Halakhah (1:1) cites this Chinukh. My translation reflects his lengthier presentation.

For example “emunah” is from a root that means trust. So the Chinukh could mean that the first two mitzvos are to trust in G-d and not to trust in any other deity or demigod. But “emunah” also refers to belief, in the sense of trusting that a concept is true, considering it reliable. the Beiur Halahah has “להאמין שיש א-לוה אחד בעולם — to believe that there is one G-d in the world…” who created it, is eternal, took us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah.

Similarly, my inserted word in “leyachado — to [declare] His Unity”. One could speak on a Qabbalistic level or even a rationalist-philosophical one, about closing the gap between G-d as He Is and G-d as He appears to people. Or as it is put in Chassidic prayers composed to be said before a number of mitzvos, “For the sake of unifying the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shechinah — His ‘Presence’.” They can never be fully made one — the human mind can’t grasp G-d as He Is. But this could have been taken to be a mitzvah to work on ever closing that gap. Here is the Beiur Halakhah’s version:

3. Leyachado. As it says “Shema Yisrael, H’ E-lokeinu H’ Echad. And its explanation: Listen Israel, and know that it is Hashem who makes everything exist through His Will, and He is our G-d Who guides / provides Providence in all the worlds. He is the One G-d without any partnership.

Again, about knowledge. Both my knowledge as well as spreading it — “Hear Israel”. So I inserted “declare”.

Looking at the list, though, I noticed that three were particular theological truths we must believe, while the other three are attitudes we bring to how we face life. Which suggested that there are correspondences, if whether each of the three in one set has a partner in the other. Which led me to this table:

BeliefAttitude
1- להאמין בשם To believe in G-d4- לאהבה אותו To love Him
2- שלא להאמין זולתו Not to believe in anything but Him6- שלא לתור אחר מחשבת הלב וראיית העינים Not to veer after the thoughts of the heart and the sights of the eyes.
2- לייחדו To [declare] His Unity5- ליראה אותו To feel yir’ah (fear / awe) of Him

To explain:

1-4: Believing that there is a Creator Who guides history and our lives and revealed His Plan for our lives naturally leads to our loving Him. As the Rambam puts it (Yesodei haTorah 2:2):

When a person contemplates His wondrous and great deeds and creations and appreciates His infinite wisdom that surpasses all comparison, he will immediately love, praise, and glorify [Him], yearning with tremendous desire to know [God’s] great name, as David stated: “My soul thirsts for G-d, for the ‘Living’ G-d” (Psalms 42:3).

2-6: The sin of idolatry has become much more rare since the early days of the second Beis haMiqdash. The yeitzer hara for it was trapped in a lead cauldron, so to speak, its voice muffled (Yuma 69b). What then is idolatry in today’s terms? According to the Vilna Gaon, it is egotism — self worship. It is strong desire where the passion for something becomes a higher priority than Hashem’s Will. Thus the belief that there is only one G-d is what keeps me from straying after my heart’s thoughts and my eyes’ sights.

3-5: Hashem’s unity is beyond our usual concept of the number one. To be one in the usual sense is to be like other things that are one. Hashem’s Oneness (note the capitalization) is unique in the extent of how unique it is! It sums up why Hashem can’t have different moves or motives, how everything that exists or that happens are effects of one Act, how the word “Act” wasn’t quite used appropriately just then, the Unity of Knower and Knowledge, etc… Hashem’s Unity is why He is unfathomable. And realizing His Otherness is what yir’ah is all about.

2 thoughts on “3×2 Constant Mitzvos

    • I don’t want to play down what works for you, but maybe they should be out of sync. Yir’as Hashem, being about Transcendence, would therefore reside more in the brain, whereas ahavas Hashem and Immanence is more felt than thought.

      I touched on this in my post on Emunah Peshutah vs Machashavah. (That post is 7-½ years old already? Really? I’ve been blogging that long? Wow time flies…)

      Or not. I don’t think this is the kind of thing that has One True Answer.

And your thoughts...?