Halacha translates in Hebrew as “to go / path”, or in other words, how Jews should go about their daily lives. The Halacha is a book of the most important laws that Jews must follow in everyday life from the Talmud. It also includes important practises preached by scholars and so the book itself is constantly being updated as more laws are brought into place or deemed important. Jews can be regarded as ‘good’ without following Halacha. Jewish people live their lives following mitzvot, which the Halacha only assists, not governs.
Through the obeying of these mitzvot, they can form a strong bond with God, and build up a good relationship with Him. In order for Jews to be seen as good by not only themselves, but by God and by others, they must follow the mitzvot more strictly than the halachot, which are only provided as a guide about how to go about following each mitzvah. Mitzvot are the road signs to life. All road signs fall under a certain category which all help the car reach its final destination.
The mitzvot also fall under categories – Tarot (teachings), Mishpatim (justice), Chukkim (obedience) and Edot (memorials and testimony). Between each sign /mitzvot however, there is nothing guiding the vehicle / Jew. This is what Halacha is – the path leading you to each mitzvot. Halacha is therefore not essential, but assists in ensuring that the way to become a good Jew is executed thoroughly and correctly. On the other hand, some believe you do need to follow the Halacha.
Following Halacha ensures that Jews are constantly concentrated and focused on their mission to build a relationship with God and to teach mankind the message of forming this bond. Just as in the army where soldiers must make their beds in a certain way, have certain haircuts, and follow certain other rules, we must follow the halachot. The way the soldiers look doesn’t affect how accurate they fire a weapon, nor does it affect his or her marching stance, however the rules help the soldiers focus on the mission they must accomplish, and ensures they are ready to do their duty.
Likewise, the way Jews wake up in the morning or how they tie their shoes in the afternoon will not affect how many or how well they complete a mitzvah, but instead will help them focus on completing the overall task – to build the relationship. Furthermore, Halacha enlightens Jews in the ways and means in which they should actually perform certain mitzvot also. For example, it is a good deed to put a mezuzah on all the doors of your house, and to kiss them when you go through the door. The Halacha will help you carry out the mitzvot one step at a time – for example, where on the door to put it, how to kiss it, and so on.