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|Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule
Positive Mitzvah 1
Negative Mitzvah 1
and Positive Mitzvah 2
Positive Mitzvah 1: Believing in G-d
Exodus 20:2 "I am the L-rd, your G-d"
When visiting a museum, you may notice a magnificent painting hanging upon the wall. As you stop to admire it - think for a moment.
Did the different colors just happen to accidentally spill on the canvas and arrange themselves into a beautiful painting?
Of course not!
It is quite obvious that an artist planned, designed, sketched and painted upon the canvas until he was pleased with his artistic work.
Our world is a "living masterpiece." It is full of beautiful flowers and trees, seas and rivers, mountains and valleys, men and animals, bursting with color and life.
Could such a "work of art" have just come into being through luck and chance?
Clearly there is a "Mastermind" behind this tremendous work of "living art."
This "Mastermind" is HaShem - G-d.
He created the world and causes it to continue to exist.
This first Positive Mitzvah commands us to believe in HaShem, the Master Creator of the Universe (see also Negative Mitzvah 1).
Negative Mitzvah 1: You shall not believe that anything else has the power of G-d except for HaShem.
Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods besides Me"
The first Positive Mitzvah, teaches that we must believe in HaShem.
However, it would still be possible for someone to believe in HaShem and also believe that there are other gods in the world.
Let us take the case of the President of the United States.
He is a competent individual, who has been entrusted with leading the American people. Nonetheless, there are other men who are suited for his job and capable of being President.
The same is true for all human leaders.
Every person has his or her own capabilities and weaknesses.
All leaders, whether they are presidents, prime ministers, or even kings, can be replaced by other people who are just as capable as they are.
However, there is nothing that can be compared with HaShem.
He is the one and only Creator; the one and only Master of the Universe. No other person, power or object is like HaShem.
This Negative Mitzvah cautions us not to believe that anything or anyone has the power of G-d, except for HaShem.
Many Mitzvot tell us how we must try to wipe out idol-worship. However, we must first try to understand exactly what is meant by "idol-worship."
What does it mean to worship idols? What kinds of idol-worship are there?
In ancient times, people worshiped idols, thinking that these idols were gods. They believed that idols could rule their lives and that idols had the ability to grant their every wish.
Much of modern society does not worship idols in the same way as people did in the past.
We do not believe that statues carved out of wood, stone or gold have any power over our lives, nor do we believe that idols can effect our lives and health.
However, idols do not necessarily have to be statues.
A person can make an idol out of almost anything.
In our own time, many people have placed a tremendous amount of importance on money, power and beauty.
When taken to extremes these, too, can become a form of idol- worship.
Take, for example, the following story of what happened to Yossi:
One day, Yossi, saw a new ten-speed bicycle in the store window.
He really liked the bicycle and wanted to buy it.
All day, at home and at school, he could think of nothing else except for ways to earn money in order to buy the bicycle.
Yossi walked around in a daze, dreaming about the bicycle.
"If I only had it, I wouldn't want anything else!", he thought to himself. "I've just got to get it, I won't ever be happy without it!"
Every day he would go to the store and stare at the bicycle. He was enchanted by it and everything he did was centered on "got-to-get-that-bike."
His desire to buy that new bicycle controlled his thoughts! Yossi didn't realize it, but he had made an "idol" out of the bicycle!
HaShem created this world and everything that is in it for us, so that we could use it in service of Him.
Many Mitzvot deal with money, possessions and other values. They teach us how to apply and use them so that we may fulfill the will of HaShem.
There is no doubt that we must appreciate the usefulness of money, beauty and everything else that exists within our world.
Yet, we must never "worship" them, nor should we allow any one thing to become so important that it rules our life.
We must always remember that only the law of HaShem, the Torah, may govern our lives.
The Mitzvot which follow, define those acts which are considered idol-worship and are therefore forbidden to us.
As we study these Mitzvot we should try to apply their lesson to our "modern day idol-worship," as well.
Positive Mitzvah 2: The oneness (unity) of G-d
Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One"
Many light fixtures illuminate our homes. Each bulb provides us with light and can be switched on and off at our convenience.
If the bulb is removed from its socket - it will not light up.
Where does the power come from?
Behind the walls are wires which lead to a central electrical cabinet.
This cabinet is connected to the electrical generator which supplies power to the entire city.
This generator sends electrical current through the wires to the whole city. Every room in your house draws its power from that one generator.
Life and growth is all around us. The sun shines, plants grow, people breathe, water flows and the wind blows. Each has its own way of functioning, yet they all draw power and energy from one source.
This source is HaShem.
This Positive Mitzvah commands us to believe that HaShem is the One and only power - the One and only G-d.
Man sees a tree and the tree says, "I am here, I was here, and I am nothing more but a thing that is here."
And Man ponders and answers, "No! I give you a name! You are "tree"! You have beauty and you have a soul. You point upwards and you say, "There is something higher, there is the One who gives me life and gives me my very being." And so Man goes on, until he has brought the whole of creation down on its knees.
Man alone can accomplish what the angels cannot. Man alone can discover the spiritual within the material.
From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - email@example.com