The month of Elul is upon us, a time for inner-reflection and positive resolutions for the upcoming year. Often times, this process is accompanied by an "ethical dilemma": is it hypocritical to resolve to do a particular mitzvah when the person remains an altogether "unspiritual individual"? Would it be proper for me to commit to pray every day if I am not yet prepared to give up non-kosher foods? This problem is especially accentuated when a person is temporarily inspired to do a particular mitzvah, but is just not ready to make a long term commitment. What value is there to making kiddush this Shabbat if I didn't do it last week and probably will be playing golf at this time next week? If mitzvot are about self-betterment and real commitment, is there any purpose in a one-night stand?

The answer to this question isn't clear-cut, and actually depends on intention of the person performing the mitzvah. Indeed, the person who views the mitzvot and a Torah lifestyle as a means of achieving a If mitzvot are about self-betterment and real commitment, is there any purpose in a one-night stand?spiritually wholesome existence, a divinely inspired disciplinary system which brings happiness and contentment to its adherents, has no reason to bother with a mitzvah which currently isn't his cup of tea and which won't be increasing his spiritual growth. He also won't entertain the notion of performing some mitzvot when he knows that others will be ignored. This person's sense of integrity will be affronted by a mitzvah which is seemingly pointless and duplicitous.

In truth, however, observing mitzvot is not merely a panacea which imparts a lifetime of spiritual bliss. Yes, it is true that a Torah led life offers all the above benefits—but they are fringe benefits. The meaning of the word "mitzvot" is "commandments," and that is precisely why we observe them, because we are servants of the A-lmighty and we follow His orders.

When approaching the mitzvot from G‑d's point of view instead of a self-centered approach, suddenly there's no such thing as a hypocritical mitzvah. A normally miserly person who decides to give a donation to the poor may feel hypocritical—but to the poor person that is irrelevant. All that matters to him is that he finally has bread to put in the mouths of his family. So perhaps the miser isn't perfect, but the act was! Every mitzvah which is done is beautiful in the eyes of G‑d – no matter what tomorrow will bring – and isn't that what it's all about?