Tehillim Tools: Psalms 18:23: Ach Peri Tevuah
The 3rd of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestir (1851-1925). (Reb Yeshayale Kerestirer)Born in Zbarav, Hungary, he lost his father at the age of 3. When he was 12, he was taken by his mother to Rav Tzvi Hirsch of Liska, the Ach Pri Tevua, whom he succeeded as Rav of Liska. He himself was succeeded by his son, Rav Avraham. (Yated 2007 says 1825)
“For all His ordinances were before me, and His statutes I did not dismiss from my mind (Psalms 18:23).” King David asked for God’s help in achieving the following: “All Your ordinances,” meaning the Mitzvot that address concrete issues are negdi, forcing me to confront my desires, but, I want more; “and His statutes I did not dismiss from my mind,” I desire to fulfill all Your laws as Statutes beyond my ken; only to fulfill Your Will (Ach Peri Tevuah; Chukat)
Personal Note: My Uncle Noach zt”l strongly opposed my learning and quoting ideas with which I disagree, even though I may find a seed for a different concept that I believe is true. My father zt”l permitted me to study and quote such books and ideas if I can find a productive way to use them, which is how I am permitted to quote ideas in this and other series, especially the Yahrtzeit series, even when I strongly disagree. This is also why I am permitted to post essays with which I disagree, as long as they do not directly contradict the Yesodot, Fundamental Ideas, I received from my father.
That being said, I strongly disagree with the Ach Peri Tevuah’s reading of this verse, however he touches on an important issue: the multiple levels in the performance of a Mitzvah.
The Ramchal teaches: “The purpose of the divine commandments has already been discussed, namely that a person should obey God’s orders and fulfill His Will. In doing so, he conforms to God’s Will in two interrelated ways.
“First of all, he obey’s God’s Will in doing what he was commanded to do. Secondly, however, he also perfects himself to that certain degree associated with that particular commandment. In doing so, he is conforming to God’s Will all the more, since God desires that man be perfected and attain the enjoyment of His good (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto; Derech Hashem 1:4:7).”
Each Mitzvah works on multiple levels, and should be approached with awareness of each level when performed:
- I am about to obey God’s Will by performing this specific Mitzvah.
- I want to use this Mitzvah to perfect myself.
- I want to perfect myself to achieve a higher level of God’s Will, that I can achieve the enjoyment of His good through my “perfection”.
- My awareness of the potential of this Mitzvah should fill me with love of God.
- The fact that each action works on so many levels should fill me with awe of God.
- The awareness that each step of a Mitzvah leads to a higher level of Spiritual perfection is accessing the gift of “Ashrei” (See “Tehillim Tools: Psalms 1:1-2: Toledot Yaakov Yosef”)