“Asher Kiddishanu” – Who Has Sanctified Us
R. Joseph said: Originally, I thought, that if anyone would tell me that the Halacha agrees with R. Judah, that a blind person is exempt from the precepts, I would make a banquet for the Rabbis, seeing that I am not obliged, yet fulfill them. Now, however, that I have heard R. Chanina’s dictum that he who is commanded and fulfils [the command] is greater than he who fulfils it though not commanded; on the contrary, if anyone should tell me that the Halacha does not agree with R. Judah, I would make a banquet for the Rabbis. (Kiddushin 31a)
Rabbi Joseph debated whether one who is not obligated in a Mitzvah receives a greater or lesser reward that one who is obligated. One who performs a Mitzvah even when not obligated shows a commitment to serve God and manifests a powerful drive to perfect his soul. However, when he performs the Mitzvah only from his desire and is not commanded to do so, is limited to his perception. Only one who fulfills what God has commanded can access the full and infinite power of a Mitzvah as willed by God. He is not limited by his insights and desire. He submits his will to God’s.
This dichotomy reflects the Written and Oral Laws: The Written Law is the expressed and Infinite Will of the Giver of Torah. When we derive a law based on the principles of the Oral Law, we begin within our limitations and insights.
However, the entire Oral Law is hinted to in the Written Law. We can access the Infinite Truth of the Written Law through the tools of the Oral Law.
The concept of the phrase “Asher Kiddishanu” – Who has Sanctified Us – is that we can access the Infinite power of God’s Will when we perform any Mitzvah, as long as our intention is to attach to God’s Will rather than our own.