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Intention in Mitzvah Performance

When we are doing a mitzvah, what should our intention be? Can we intend that we are doing it for the sake of reward, or what?


The basic intention that a person should have upon fulfilling a mitzvah is for the sake of performing the instruction of Hashem, and doing His will. This is the basic intention that is required of all mitzvos, and which ensures that the mitzvah is indeed considered a mitzvah deed, and not some mundane act.

Beyond this, each mitzvah can have additional meaning. For Tefillin, to give oneself a dimension of Kedushah; for tzitzis to elevate one’s clothing, and so on. For some mitzvos, the Torah itself suggests an intention, such as to recall the redemption from Egypt (for Tefillin, Moadim, and many others besides), or to recall the Clouds of Glory when sitting in the Sukkah.

Intention to receive reward is not the idea intention, but if one has in mind reward of the world to come, which is essentially closeness to Hashem, the intention is positive: One performs the mitzvah with the intention of being brought closer to G-d.

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