I thought that we could begin with a brief thought about the meaning of the word mitzvah, especially given the name of this section of the website.
Mitzvah is a noun and is most often understood to mean “a commandment.” Not surprisingly, mitzvah comes from the Hebrew root tzavah, a verb, which means “to command.” This in itself is interesting because many Hebrew nouns are built from verbs and in this way Hebrew language is very different from English. Hebrew is a language of movement, action and, for the more mystically inclined, of energy. Mitzvah or commandment usually refers to one of the 613 mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) in the Torah.
We also can think about the word mitzvah with added dimensions. Some think about it in terms of “a good deed.” Another dimension of the word “mitzvah” is connection. When we do a mitzvah with kavannah, with intention, and that intention is to do something good for others, i.e. people, animals, aspects of our environment, this forms connection. We may connect deeply with others who work with us in doing the mitzvah. We may become more aware of joy that we feel in doing the action of the mitzvah and in this way connect more deeply with our authentic selves. When we relate a mitzvah to the Torah and sacred text, we might even feel as if we are connecting heaven and earth, manifesting something in our current world whose source is ancient wisdom or that has roots in Heaven.
Shalom for now,