This week’s Torah reading begins with a description of the blessings a person will receive for the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos. And it continues with a detailed description of the retribution to be visited upon our people if they fail to observe.

The commentaries raise questions concerning these statements, because our Torah observance is not a bargain which G‑d strikes with us. He does not need our observance. We do.

By observing the Torah and its mitzvos , we step beyond the realm of ordinary mortal experience and connect ourselves to G‑d. The very word mitzvah alludes to this concept, for it shares the root of the term tzavsa, meaning “connection” or “bond.” When we perform a mitzvah , we unite ourselves with Him.

Thus our observance is a benefit for us, not for Him. Our Sages point to this concept in their teaching in Pirkei Avos : “The reward for a mitzvah is the mitzvah. What we receive for doing G‑d’s will is a bond with Him. There is no other reward that is truly fitting.

Material benefit surely cannot serve as appropriate compensation for our observance. The spiritual value of these deeds is unbounded, and all material prosperity, however, abundant, is by nature limited.

Maimonides resolves these issues as follows: The true reward which man will receive for his Torah observance is spiritual. When a person serves G‑d he will be granted prosperity and blessing. This is not, however, a reward for observing mitzvos , but encouragement for him to do so.

When G‑d sees that man is making an effort to serve Him, He makes that task easier by removing hardships that might handicap this endeavor. For example, when a person is sick, it is difficult for him to apply himself in Divine service. Therefore a person who perseveres in his Divine service will be given the benefits of health so that he will be able to serve G‑d with greater energy.

This motif is also alluded to in Pirkei Avos which teaches: “One mitzvah leads to another.” By performing one mitzvah , we initiate a process of causation that leads - on many planes - to the observance of many others.

These concepts also relate to the ultimate of human experience, the Era of the Redemption. Maimonides teaches that in that age, hunger, war, or controversy will no longer beset mankind. These idyllic conditions are not, however, an end in and of themselves, but rather a means. As Maimonides states: “The sages did not yearn for the era of Mashiach to have dominion, to be exalted, to eat, drink, and celebrate. Instead, they desired to be free to involve themselves in Torah and wisdom.” The peak of our experience will be our spiritual bond with Him, the peace and prosperity which we will enjoy will be appreciated as mediums facilitating that goal and not as purposes in their own right.