As we get further from the Sinai experience, our spirituality level decreases. This phenomenon is known as niskatnu hadoros, the generations become smaller. For this reason, no Talmudic authority known as an Amora ever disputed a Tanna, a Mishnaic authority. Because of this spiritual deterioration, the Gemara in Makkos informs us that successive prophets distilled the Torah’s expectations into fewer principle objectives until it says that Chabakuk b’emidan al achas, broke it down to one general principle, “Tzadik b’emunoso yichyeh – The righteous man lives by his faith.” Before that, the prophet Micha capsulized the Torah’s expectation into three categories: Ki im asos mishpot, v’ahavas chesed, v’hatznei’ah leches im Elokecha.”
Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, zy”a, explained that the first two categories are straightforward. Asos mishpot is the doing of all laws, both those between man and Hashem, and those between man and his fellow man. Ahavas chesed embraces the love of performing all acts of kindness ranging from charity to visiting the sick, rejoicing the bride and groom, comforting the mourner and giving respect to the dead, and so on. However, wonders Rav Miller, the third category is puzzling. For this level, walking modesty with Hashem, does not sound like a separate category. It is, rather, a way to fulfill the other two, namely that they should be done without ulterior motives and for the sake of Hashem. As Rav Elchonan Wasserman, zt”l, zy”a, hy”d, explained, when one walks modestly that is proof that he is not doing the deed for an ulterior motive. It is clearly for the sake of Hashem.
However, persists Rav Miller, this still doesn’t seem to be a third category of mitzvah. He therefore explains that V’hatznei’ah leches im Elokecha means to think about Hashem in your mind at “down times” throughout the day. This, he says, is called walking privately with Hashem for it is done in the privacy of the mind without anyone being aware of it. And this, he says, is one of the major purposes of life and is a fitting third category.
Thus, when we are waiting in line at the Post Office, or sitting in our car in traffic, or resting for a moment in a chair, and we take the time to thank Hashem for all that we have, or when we ask Hashem for continued health, this is living one’s life to the fullest. It is the fulfillment of the directive at the beginning of Kitzur Shulchan Orech, “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi somid,” that one should place Hashem before him at all times. This is the mission about which Noach was praised, for it says, “Es haElokim hisaleich Noach,” and it is what Dovid sings about, “Eshaleich lifnei Hashem ba’artzos hachaim – I will walk before Hashem in the land of the living.”
Let’s try to increase the private times during the day that we think about our Beloved Creator. This could be lingering for a moment when we pass a mezuzah, it could be when we gaze appreciatively at a sunny day, or when we enjoy a crisp breeze. It could be for a few seconds before we take off our tefillin, or when we enjoy the laughter of a child or a grandchild. When we increase our relationship with Hashem, then there will be a greater reciprocity as then Hashem will grant us more special attention.
In the merit of our attention to Micha’s three categories, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.