Ki Teitzei: Why do Mitzvot?
In this week’s parsha, HaShem tells us the reward for sending away the mother bird:
If a bird’s nest chances before you on the road… you shall not take the mother upon the young. You shall send away the mother, and [then] you may take the young for yourself, in order that it should be good for you, and you should lengthen your days. Deuteronomy 22:6-7
HaShem informs us that the reward for fulfilling the mitzvah of shooing away the mother bird before taking the eggs is long life. The only other mitzvah in the Torah for which we are told its reward, is honouring your mother and father, where the reward is also long life.
Why is it, with the exception of these two mitzvot, that HaShem doesn’t tell us the rewards for fulfilling His mitzvot?
I’d like to present two possible answers.
The first is revealed to us in a midrash on this week’s parsha in Devarim Rabbah, which says:
What does the Pasuk in Mishlei 5:6 mean when it says “Lest you weigh the path of life…”?
It means HaShem said: Don’t sit and weigh the mitzvot of the Torah.
Rebbi Aba the son of Kahana said it means: Don’t say “Since this mitzvah has a greater reward, I will do it, and since this mitzvah has a smaller reward, I won’t do it.”
Therefore what did HaShem do? He didn’t reveal the rewards of each mitzvah, so that we do all the mitzvot in the end.
This is comparable to a king who rented out workers for his orchard, and he didn’t reveal to them the reward for their work. At the end of the day, he went up to each one and asked “Which plant did you work on?” Each worker showed him the tree he worked on.