In the Torah portion Savo, we are told to “walk in His paths.”1 The Rambam regards this exhortation as a positive command,2 explaining it to mean that “we are to emulate the A-mighty to the greatest extent possible; just as G‑d is deemed gracious, compassionate and benevolent, so we are to be gracious, compassionate and benevolent.”

One of the Rambam ’s principles regarding the enumeration of commandments is that an all-encompassing command such as “You shall observe My statutes,” or “You shall be holy,” is not counted as one of the 613 mitzvos , inasmuch as they embrace the entire Torah.

Accordingly, it would seem that to “walk in His paths” should not be counted as a positive command, for “emulating the A-mighty to the greatest extent possible” is germane to all mitzvos.

Why does the Rambam count this as one of the 613 commandments?

We must conclude that “walking in His paths” involves something not found in any of the other commandments, for which reason it is counted as a distinct command.

What is the unique aspect of this mitzvah ?

The uniqueness of this command lies in that we are told to “walk in His paths.” It is possible for a person to perform a mitzvah and to remain stationary — the person finds himself afterwards in the same state he was in before. “You shall walk ….” implies that performing the mitzvah transforms the performer into an individual in motion, leaving his previous station and marching on to a higher spiritual rank.

The Jew is able to accomplish this when he realizes that he is going in “His paths,” i.e., that he performs mitzvos because they are G‑d’s path and he desires to emulate G‑d to the greatest extent possible. When a person performs mitzvos in this manner, he can be assured that rather than remaining spiritually immobile, he will be constantly “on the move.”

While it is true that performing mitzvos in any manner elevates the performer, when they are not performed in a “walking” manner the effect on the person will remain concealed; “walking in His paths” reveals the spiritual refinement and elevation accomplished through the performance of mitzvos.

Moreover, when one “walks in His paths,” the elevation achieved is limitless:

Chassidus explains the verse:3 “I shall cause you to be ‘walkers’ among those who are ‘stationary’,” as referring to the spiritual state of souls who perform Torah and mitzvos in this world, compared to souls and angels above. Although angels and souls above are constantly rising from level to level, they are considered “stationary,” for all their degrees of refinement and elevation are of the same magnitude — each spiritual elevation is in some way comparable to their previous level. They are thus considered spiritually immobile, compared to the true infinity of G‑dliness.

In contrast, the soul within a body, performing Torah and mitzvos with physical objects, is considered to be in motion, for performing mitzvos enables a Jew to rise in a way such that each new level is infinitely loftier than the previous one.

Yet all created beings are inherently finite. How can their service emulate the truly limitless Creator, thereby achieving a limitless elevation?

In order for mitzvos to possess this infinite capacity, it is necessary for the person performing them to be in touch with the essence of his soul at the time.

For the soul, being “truly a part of G‑d above,”4 is infinite. When a person draws down the infinite level of his soul’s essence and connects it with the particular mitzvah he is performing, thus enhancing that mitzvah with the pure faith and self-sacrifice which emanate from the soul’s essence, he will be able to draw down this infinite level within his finite service.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, pp. 1130-1134