G – d commanded the Jewish nation to keep His Torah laws (Mitzvot). As we all know there are 613 Mitzvot but not too many Jews were able to keep all of them. Even if they wanted. The reason is that many laws apply to males only or refer to the Cohanim and their service in the Temple. As we are still waiting for Meshiach and the Third Temple to be built, we are only able to keep about 70 Mitzvot today.
Just recently we read the Torah Parashot Ekev and Re’eh where G – d is letting the Jews know that they either keep the Mitzvot and enjoy prosperity or the don’t keep the Mitzvot and thus have to face the consequences. In the Talmud Tractates of Berachot 33b, Sanhedrin 21b as well as Kiddushin 39b, the Tannaim are discussing why G – d refrained from giving the exact reason for each and every single Mitzvah. Besides only a very few Mitzvot, we simply don’t have any explanation why we have to do this and that. What we can do is figuring out a reason but the truth is that we still don’t know G – d’s real intention.
Sometimes we may find opinions in the Gemara hinting that there are no reasons but the vast majority of Sages, including the Rambam and the Ramban, say that there is a reason for every single Mitzvah we do. Most of the time we don’t understand why we are doing such and such but G – d has His reasons behind anything in this world.
The Jews are commanded to keep the Torah Mitzvot and the task of the Gentile is to keep the Seven Noachide Laws. If a Jew is not willing to carry out a specific Mitzvah now, at least, he should have in mind that one day he will be able to do this and that Mitzvah.
There is so much written about the Mitzvot in the Talmud, you wouldn’t believe it. You study one section and due to the background sources, you will find more and more. A never ending study. But why only talk about us and our Mitzvah difficulties today when we could go back and have a look at the source ?
It says in Sefer Bereshit 2:15:
"A – do – nai E – lo – him took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to guard it".
The question is what kind of work Adam HaRishon was supposed to do ? He didn’t need to plant or build anything. Everything he needed was there and he just needed to grab it.
The Midrash Pirkei de’Rabbi Eliezer offers us one idea: The work Adam was supposed to do was studying the Torah.
Now you may claim that the Torah itself was only given to the Jews more than twenty generations later. And, by the way, Adam HaRishon was not a Jew at all. So, how could he study Torah when the Torah wasn’t in this world yet ?
Always take into consideration that Adam and Eve were on an extremely high soul level. A level we cannot even imagine today. Still in Gan Eden, Adam was able to do anything and had an unbelievable mind. His duty was to acknowledge G – d as the Creator of all existence and to follow the rules G – d was commanding him. G - d created both of them choosing a different path by refraining to eat from the Etz HaDa'at (Tree of Knowledge). If they had, they would have gained eternal life and our world would look much different today.
Furthermore, it says that Adam should guard Gan Eden.
Why ? Where there trespassers or thieves around ? Anyone trying to break in and steal something ?
A commentary in SEFER Ha’CHINUCH provides us with an answer: The external appearance of Gan Eden was very different than its inner essence. From the outside there were plants, trees and water. Its essence, however, was spiritual. Humans don’t only live in a material manner but a man is created in such a way that he also needs spirituality.
How did the spirituality come to Adam and Eve ? The answer to that is very simple: By carrying out the Mitzvot. Studying Torah was their work but by fulfilling G – d’s laws, they were guarding themselves from going astray. By fulfilling the Torah Mitzvot they built a fence around their Torah knowledge. Adam and Eve were guarding themselves from leaving the path of Torah.
Coming back into our times: We, as Jews, may keep the Mitzvot, half of the Mitzvot or no Mitzvot because we possess a G – dly created FREE CHOICE. Whatever our potential is, we should always keep in mind that there is so much more we could accomplish.