According to the Rambam ( Rabbi Moses Maimonides whoose initial form the word Rambam) the first Mitzvah is the First of the Esser Debrot. I will utilize his list of Mitzvoth as it is the list that is most generally accepted. Please note there are Machlochet’s (disagreements for the sake of heaven) between the Ramban, the Ramban and others.
So what is the first of the Esser Debrot and what is the connection to this concept of Mitzvah?
Please see Shmot or Exodus Chapter 20 vs 2 or you can click on this link and enter Exodus ch 20 vs 2.
According to the Rambam this verse is the first Mitzvah. It is the first verse of the Esser Debrot and the Sages teach us that the Mitzvah is verbalized as Know that there is a God or Know that HaShem is your God.
The first word in the verse is Anoki which is a unusual spelling of the word Ani which means “I”. The word Anoki is never spelled with the full spelling of the letter Vav. here is what i mean. אנוכי or אנכי. The first spelling is complete with a Vav and the second which is the way it is spelled in the Torah. In the Torah, the word Anoki is used to refer to Hashem in the first person and also to Moshe and no other person or entity. The Gematria of Anoki when spelled completely is 87 and some of the Kabbalists say that this is a reference to Elokim which is Gematria 86 plus the Kolel. Please see the Blog about the Kolel for a fuller explanation.
How does one do this Mitzva of knowing God. One method is Torah study but that is another Mitzvah. So we realize that to truly understand this we need to understand the word Know or Knowledge.
In Kabbalah, we teach about the tree of life which has a non Sefirah connected to it called Knowledge. This non Sefirah is explained as the restriction between the Spherah of Chochma , which is wisdom, and Binah, which is Understanding. Another way of saying this is Knowledge is the balance between Chochma and Binah. between Wisdom and Understanding. Another way to understand it is Knowledge is the balance between intuition and logic.
I am going to start substituting the word experience for knowledge because one level of knowing something is to experience. Experience uses senses both the physical and the psychic kind of sense which is connected to intuition.
Knowledge is also the word used in the Torah to address the sexual intercourse between Adam and Chava, Adam and Eve. Did they just shake hands or did they reach male ejaculation and by assumption female orgasm. This is a question the Zohar asks and answers they did have sexual intercourse leading to male ejaculation.
From these uses we can begin to understand that Knowledge is Experience. Knowledge is connecting to something through our senses. So what is belief and how does it differ from knowledge.
The easiest way to explain this is to ask you to do the following:
Stand in front of an audience of at least 1 person. the more the more fun.
Hold something like a pen or pencil or a key or a coin in your right hand.
Tell your audience you are going to drop the item and ask them will it hit the floor (or table if you are holding it over a table)?
Some will say yes ; some will say no; and some will say what’s the trick. talk to them till there is only a yes or no response.
Now ask them do they know their answer or do they believe their answer?
When you experience this process you begin to get an understanding about experiencing or knowing vs belief.
Now ask the audience as well as your self Do i know God or do i believe in God?
If your answer is I believe in God, as most people respond. Ask yourself the question Why is the Mitzvah to know God and not to believe in God? How does one change belief in to knowledge?
To be continued!