In an introduction to Sefer HaChinuch, the author singles out six mitzvos (commandments) that one is obligated to fulfill on a constant basis. These mitzvos, he writes, should not be absent from a person’s consciousness for even one second of his life. The six constant mitzvos are:
– Emunah: Faith in Hashem
– Lo Yihiyeh: The prohibition against idolatry
– Yichud Hashem: Hashem’s Oneness
– Ahavas Hashem: Loving Hashem
– Yiras Hashem: Fearing Hashem
– Lo Sasuru: Do not stray after your eyes and your heart
Since it is not humanly possible to perform six actions at the same time – and certainly not on a constant basis – it is clear that these mitzvos are meant to be performed through thought alone. Even so, however, it is difficult to understand the very premise of the obligation to fulfill Six Constant Mitzvos, for how is it possible to think about six different things at the same time? And even if someone could theoretically master the art of juggling six different thoughts in his mind simultaneously, how would he then go on to fulfill all of the other mitzvos of the Torah – let alone lead an otherwise productive life?
It would seem, therefore, that there must be a different idea behind the Six Constant Mitzvos.
Making Decisions without Active Thought
How many times a day do we think about the force of gravity?
It is quite possible that days, years, or decades go by in which we do not think about gravity at all. At the same time, however, our awareness of the existence of a gravitational pull in the atmosphere is evident in nearly every movement we make.
We sip coffee from a mug, and then place the mug down on the table. An astronaut traveling in space could not have done that. He would need some apparatus to hold the mug (and the coffee!) in place.
Even the simplest movements we make require an awareness of gravity. We would not be able to walk, lie down, or shake hands without it. Now that we are thinking about gravity, we realize that we would not be able to accomplish very much without its existence.
Although we are constantly aware of the force of gravity, we do not need to think about it on a conscious level. Our actions reflect our awareness of this invisible force as a constant presence in the atmosphere, even though we give little or no thought to it.
The idea behind the Six Constant Mitzvos is that each of the six represents an awareness that you must have. These six “awarenesses” should become so ingrained in your psyche that they should be reflected in all of your actions.
Art Scroll has just released a new sefer on the Six Constant Mitzvos based on a series of lectures given by Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem. Rabbi Berkowitz is a a leading posek and Rosh Kollel in Jerusalem, a pioneer in chinuch and kiruv and co-author of a work on shemiras halashon, A Lesson A Day. In this beautifully written, profound and yet readable work, we see that the mandate to fulfill these commandments is not an impossible task, but something that we all can do. Through stories, real-life practical examples, inspirational insights, and a deep understanding of Torah thought, Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz, in collaboration with Rabbi Shai Markowitz, have produced a penetrating yet fascinating book that sets us thinking and striving.