There’s a famous Mishnah that is said at the end of every study session. I’m sure most people have heard it. It says “RabbiChananya Ben Akashia says: Hashem wanted to give merits to Israel and for this purpose, increased the number Mitzvos as it is said: Hashem wanted for His justice to make the Torah great and honorable”.
On the surface it seems like a very straightforward feeling. We see that instead of making the Mitzvah of Tefilin one for both arms and head, Hashem made it two Mitzvot! Each of them is independent of the other. This also applies to non-Jews since they are bound by the Mitzvot of Bnei Noach.
However, digging deeper we can also find very deep gems, especially when considering it was said in Rabbi Chananya ben Akashia’s name.
The Power of a Mishnah
Mishnayot are not simply a nice piece of teaching. Rather, they carry the soul of the Tannah and contain tremendous power to rectify our souls. This is known by the fact that the word Mishnah (משנה) and Neshamah (soul, נשמה) have the same letters. Before teaching the Mishnah, the Tanna had to open a channel of wisdom in the higher spiritual worlds, specifically from his soul root, and condense it down to written form, such that it’s said in his name.
While we may have more affinity with one Tanna or another, the truth is these teachings are a legacy for everyone and apply to all of us.
Rabbi Chaim Vital teaches in Sha’ar HaYichudim a fascinating meditation in which a person sits down and starts speaking a Mishnah of his choice. The person needs to relax, and try to connect with the soul of the Tanna who said it. If done properly, after some time, the Tanna’s soul may clothe itself in the person and use his mouth to speak to him!
This is because of what our sages teach that whenever we utter Torah from someone who’s passed away, his lips also move in the grave, as if he himself was also speaking. And this is also the basis for the segulah of knowing Mishnayot by heart; the person who does so is aided by the Tannaim themselves.
The Kabbalah of Love
What most people call Hashem’s love is in fact a measure of what we perceive from his Sephirah of lovingkindness (Chesed). No one can properly assess or understand the extent of Hashem’s love for us. Yet, we see through or everyday lives that we all have things to be grateful for. From head to toe, we have an amazing divine creation called the body, which works more than enough for us to serve Hashem and merit the Olam HaBah.
In fact, the human body is much more powerful than most people believe. It can regenerate itself and ward off most diseases on its own. Some even say that 5 times a year, it creates cancer cells and disposes of them without us even realizing. It possesses capacity to think and be creative in ways the best computer can’t even dream (or the building the computers can’t dream of achieving). But perhaps what is most fascinating is that through the body we can understand the workings of the spiritual worlds, as it’s written from the book of Yiov (Job): “From my flesh I see God”. Since no part of is ever superfluous to perform Mitzvot we see then how much Hashem cherishes us and our service by giving us the human body.
It’s noteworthy that Rabbi Levi Yitzhak from Berditchovanalyses this Mishnah and teaches that there’s a specific inclusion in the word “Hirbah” (increased) to mean that there are in fact two types of Mitzvot: Those that a person has no pleasure from them (like Tzitzit or Tzedaka) and those that a person does have pleasure (like eating on Shabbat or being fruitful and multiplying). While we can certainly say that a person who makes the Mitzvot for pleasure has a reward, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak teaches that when a person does so L’Shem Shamayim, his reward is not only greater, but his body gets refined and can even taste the sweetness of Olam HaBah.
Internalizing Hashem’s love and value for us is of incredible importance for us to be happy and elevate ourselves and others around.
May we all derive inspiration from Rabbi Chananya Ben Akashia and be blessed to perform our work, and if possible, with some help from the Tannaim as well!
This article was written in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May Hashem help them attain all their hearts desires speedily with complete emuna.
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