By Shalom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
Moses says to the Jews, “And now, Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d ask from you but to fear Him…?” –Deuteronomy 10:12.
Talmud (Berachos 33b):
“Is then the fear of G-d a small matter? Yes. For Moses it is a small matter.”
The verse states that G-d asks the Jews at large to fear Him and implies that this is easy. The Talmud questions this. But the Talmud’s response, that it is indeed easy for Moses, seemingly leaves the question unanswered; how could it be easy for the common person to fear G-d?
There exists a spiritual element of Moses in everyone’s soul, namely the capability to know G-d palpably, in a way that shall bring a person to obey G-d’s commandments to a) turn away from evil and b) do good.
However, for three reasons, this palpable knowledge of G-d (the “Moses element”) requires great toil so as to be revealed and actualized:
- The soul is incorporated into the physical body and is hidden by it.
- Sin dulls the mind and heart.
- G-d is not so readily apparent….
Therefore, the following methods are necessary for revealing the “Moses element”:
- To feel remorse for past wrongdoings.
- To accustom oneself to actually spend a tangible amount of time each day thinking of the greatness of G-d and His omnipresence. More specifically, contemplating how G-d is literally everywhere and He constantly sees and hears everything, including each and every person’s every behavior.
- To keep this (daily) meditation going as long as it takes to begin to feel and draw the conclusion that since one is always in the presence of G-d who sees and hears, therefore one must actually turn away from evil and do good.
Then the “Moses element” is revealed. Upon achieving the proper result of this meditation, one shall easily be able to behave accordingly throughout the day, by even just briefly reminding oneself of the above, at any given moment.
Hence, the Talmud’s response. Fearing G-d is a “small matter” for everyone, just as it is easy for “Moses” himself, i.e. the Moses element in each and every person. With the activation of the palpable knowledge of G-d (the “Moses element”), fearing G-d is easy.
The fundamental principle necessary to educate anyone (oneself, one’s peers, and the youth) to turn away from evil and do good, is by inculcating an awareness of the Supreme Being Who watches and hears all of each and every individual’s behavior.
(Based on Tanya, Section I, Ch. 42)