What is a bird without its wings?
Is it still a bird? Is it less than a bird, or perhaps even something more?
Birds are defined by their wings, even the few species that don’t fly. What happens if we lose what defines us? What happens if we as people can’t fly? Are we no longer ourselves? Are we any less of the people who we were before we lost that which gave us flight?
Tanya for today (8 Nissan) says that even if it’s wingless, a bird is still a bird. Wings are only a motor for the actual bird to go where it wants to go.
At its essence, the bird is not its ability to fly. Just as we are more than what we say or do.
There is a part of us – the essential part of us – that remains pure and untouched regardless of whether we still have what gives us expression or not: clothes, money, athleticism, intellect, our families, our names, our hair. But we were given these things for a reason. To give flight to that pure essence, to take it to where it needs to go.
Mitzvos are still very special even if they’re done by rote, without enthusiasm or accountability. But we can give them wings by fulfilling them with love and fear.
(Adapted from Tanya, Chapter 40)