And HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying: “Speak to the Children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue on the fringe of each corner. This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of HASHEM to perform them, and you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray. So that you shall remember and perform all My commandments and you shall be holy to your G-d. I am HASHEM, your G-d, Who took you out of the Land of Egypt to be your G-d; I am HASHEM, your G-d. (Bamidbar 15:37-41)
Here we have the third paragraph of SHEMA which we say twice a day every day. The Tzitzis are some kind of Heavenly reminder of all the Mitzvas. How does that work?
I was always amazed and puzzled by one of my Rebbeim. Whatever he was doing seemed to be important. If he was saying Tehillim it was important. If he was collecting Tzedaka it was important! If he was heading home for lunch, it was important! I would feel the opposite about whatever I was doing. If I was saying Tehillim, then I was perhaps wasting my time. Maybe I should be doing something else. I wondered for a long time why he projected such importance in everything he did and I was feeling off task in so much of what I did. What was the difference? I knew it had to do with something more than just superficial confidence.
This Talmudic concept might provide the beginning of an answer: “Shlucho Shel Adam C’moso” – “The messenger is like the one who sends him.” A messenger takes on the power and proportion of the one who is sending him. An act is greatly enlarged due to the “power of attorney” granted by the sender. Even a simple task that does not require originality or genius from the performer but by the connection to The One Who commands him. The deed is not less than an extension of the will of HASHEM. That is what energizes the performance of a Mitzvah!
Let’s say I was to approach the Governor’s mansion at 3:00 AM and begin to knock on the door and demand a meeting with the Governor. Somebody would likely shout out, “Who goes there?” I might sheepishly answer, “Label Lam!” “Go away you fool!” they would appropriately respond and I would be made to leave. However, if I was carrying a message from the President, I would bang on the door more emphatically and when asked what the racket was all about, I would forget at that moment about myself and I would answer with a sense of overpowering urgency, “It’s a message from the President!” The door would open wide!
How important are we and how important is what we are doing at any given moment? It is entirely up to us! How do we perceive our purpose, our mission on this earth? Who is sending us! Who do we represent? Do we represent ourselves? Do we represent our families? Do we represent our neighborhood or the Jewish People? Do we represent some other agenda or do we represent HASHEM? That is the question?
Here is a shocking statement that needs a big explanation. We speak in practical terms of Ruchnius/spirituality and Gashmius/physicality but the truth is that everything is really one of the two. Which? The entire world is Ruchnius! Yes, there is dense Ruchnius and less dense Ruchnius, but everything is Ruchnios! “Ain Od Milvado!” – “There is nothing other than Him!” Gashmios is an illusion, a coverup. Hence, the word for “world” in Loshon HaKodesh is “OLAM”. OLAM means hidden.
If you are having a hard time digesting this concept, keep in mind that Einstein had posited and it has been accepted as truth, a fact of life, that everything is energy; E=MC2. Everything on the periodic table may seem solid but in reality, it is all sublimated energy, oceans of the same sublime energy. Maybe that is what the Tzitzis are aiming to remind us of and wake up inside. We can look at life with our fleshy eyes or study the world with our mind’s eye and perceive the ultimate truth, and when we do, then everything we do is infused with sublime energy and the utmost importance.