Advanced Search

Good Intentions and Good Results


Does God care more about the intentions of a person doing a mitzvah, or that the rules are followed to the letter? For example: one puts up a mezuzah and later discovers that it was missing a letter and therefore not kosher. Which is more important: that the person intended and tried to fulfill a mitzvah or that the mitzvah was actually performed in the correct manner? For the record, I believe God cares about intentions, but I am interested in the rabbinical perspective. Thank you. answered:

What a fascinating question! The answer is that they are both important — it is important that a person should try to fulfill a mitzvah in the correct way, and it is also important that the person in fact succeeds in doing so.   

You are certainly correct in your belief that God cares about intentions. That is what I understand you to be asking. Not only is the result in succeeding to fulfill a mitzvah important, but there is definitely great value and reward for thinking and trying to fulfill a mitzvah even if one is not ultimately successful due to circumstances beyond his control.

Our Talmudic rabbis teach (based on a verse in the Book of the Prophet Malachi 3:16): Rav Asi said, “Even if a person just thought to do a mitzvah, but was prevented from doing so, he receives reward as if he had in fact fulfilled the mitzvah.” This statement clearly teaches that God rewards good intentions to do a mitzvah, as much, or nearly as much, as if the person actually succeeded in fulfilling the mitzvah. In fact, we are also taught that, “A good intention is combined with a good deed” — meaning that a person receives reward for both his good intention and his good deed.

God know we are only human and can do only so much. Although we are expected to try our best, sometimes “outside forces” come into play to decide whether a person succeeds in fulfilling a sincere thought to do a mitzvah.

However, ultimately it is the ideal that a person succeed in fulfilling a mitzvah, although he will certainly receive great reward for intending and trying to fulfill a mitzvah even without “success”. Therefore, in the event the mezuzah is found to be not kosher, such as in the case you asked about, the person should buy a kosher mezuzah to replace it (and get his money back for the non-kosher one!).

Similar Questions
Mitzvot > Observance
Circumcision on the Eighth Day
Changing a Character Trait
Relationships and Commandments
Easy to be Jewish?
Love Your Neighbor
Purpose of Commandments
Kosher Speech
A Sabbath Candle
Rituals and Kindness
Keeping the Mitzvot
Self Advancement and Teaching Others
Partial Observance of Mitzvot
Torah Study and Jewish Obervance at University
Am I a Bad Jew?
Why Keep the Mitzvot?
May One Be Addicted to the Observance of Mitzvot?
The Mitzvah System
Father's and Mother's Day
Shabbat and Holiday Times
Becoming a Better Person
Treat it Like Your Friend
Charity Begins with Justice
The Ladder of Righteousness
A Time to Return
Doing and Understanding
Mitzvah Methodology
Testing the Waters
Choosing a Rabbi
Observance Without (Total) Belief
Tithing of Money
Mother’s Day — 365 Days a Year
Being Fruitful
Judge Me
Jewish Obligation?
A Meaningful Mitzvah
God > In Everyday Life
The Rainbow Reminder
Jewish Obligation?
Jewish Faith
Who and Where is God?
Book of Cures
“Love” and “Fear” of God
A Sabbatical for the Land
Reaction to Terror
A Moral Dilemma
The Russian Meteorite: a “Natural” Phenomenon?
All for the Best
Facing Terror in Israel
Miracle Maker
Israel – The Holy Land
Love on Demand
And Let Us Say “Amen”
Being a Good Jew
“Mazel Tov” & Energy from Above
Why Don’t I See Any Miracles?
The Fear Factor
Who’s the Doctor?
A Cure for the Incurable
Thank God
Population Explosion
Changing My Appearance
God’s “Will”
Branches of a Jewish Government
Best Friends Forever
Who Needs Whom?
My Very First Words
Tragedy and Faith in God
“No Pain, No Gain”
Divine Justice
A Blessing on Your Head
Why Do Good People Suffer?
The Nepal Earthquake
Why Bring a Shlamim Sacrifice?
Philosophy > Guidance of Torah Leaders
King Solomon’s Wisdom
Oral Law
Kohen and Rabbi
Love Thy Neighbor
"Anger and Anti-Semitism"
The Need for Torah
Da'at Torah
Ruach HaKodesh
Be My Guest
Our Father and Our Teacher
A Word to the Wise
The Ten Tenets
Facing Terror in Israel
Being a Good Jew
Choosing a Rabbi
Reaction to Terror
What Would America Do?
Safety First
Praying for National Unity
The High Standard of Leadership
Branches of a Jewish Government
Open for Business
Pursuing Peace
Getting Drunk
“Prosperity” II
Blessings and Rabbi Photos
A Carpet Caper
Have a question?
Gateways - Your Key to Jewish Continuity is a service of the Gateways Organization © 2022
Technical problems? Please contact the AskTheRabbi Support team