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The Direction One Takes

Our Rabbis taught: “One Mitzvah -good deed- leads to another Mitzvah, and one sin leads to another sin”. A person should not be agitated over a transgression that he has committed unintentionally, however, he should be agitated that now an opening has been made for him to sin, unintentionally and even intentionally. And a person should not rejoice over a Mitzvah that he has at hand, but he should rejoice for the many opportunities for Mitzvot that he will subsequently encounter. (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayikra #6)

We often focus on the particular actions that take place throughout a day. We compartmentalize our achievements and failures in neat little bundles. We draw checks in the “to do box” when we do something positive, we wince and give ourselves a mental tap on the hand when we mess up.

This Midrash is teaching us how to see beyond the fragmented snapshots that shape our lives. It is urging us to understand that what matters is the direction of our life.
Don’t be distressed over the unintentional sin you have committed. Feeling terrible about it will only distract you from searching for the root of the real problem. Realize that there is a breach in your awareness. It is necessary to confront the area of weakness, redefine your goals and reestablish the course of your life.
On the other hand, when you seize a Mitzvah that came your way, don’t simply feel satisfied at the single act you accomplished. Rejoice, because if you are living the kind of life where you see everything as an opportunity to grow, then, it is not just that a particular Mitzvah will lead to another particular Mitzvah; it becomes the actual essence of your existence, a path of infinite possibilities to do good and reach higher.


This is why the opening chapter of Psalms highlights the significance of the direction one takes as opposed to the specific acts: “For God recognizes the way of the righteous, while the way of the wicked is doomed”.

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