August 10, 2017 / 18 Av, 5777 • Parshat Eikev
Issue 468
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman


And now, Israel, what does G-d, your G-d, demand of you? Only to revere G-d, your G-d, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, and to serve G-d, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul. 

Deuteronomy 10:12

Only to fear G-d, your G-d: Although in some contexts, the "fear of G-d" mentioned in the Torah could arguably mean "the fear that G-d will (or could) punish you," in most cases it is clear that "fear of G-d" refers to a palpable awareness of His presence; "fear," in this context, is simply the fear that G-d would see you doing something that you would be embarrassed or ashamed to have Him see you do, a mere consequence of a much more significant intensity of Divine consciousness.

It is in this vein that the sages of the Talmud ask, referring to this verse, "Is the fear of Heaven, then such a small matter?" And they answer, "Yes, for Moses it is a small matter."

Of course, Moses is here addressing all the Jewish people. How was the apparent ease with which he attained fear of G-d relevant to the rest of the people--who were certainly not on his spiritual level? The answer is that indeed every Jew contains within him a "spark" of the soul of Moses. Moses was the "shepherd" of the Jewish flock, charged by G-d with the task of conveying the Torah he received directly from Him to the people--in all its facets, both rational and supra-rational. In order to accomplish this feat, G-d made Moses' soul a comprehensive one, in which the souls of all the people were rooted and which projected itself into the souls of all the people. This is the allegorical interpretation of Moses' statement about "the people in whose midst I am." And since the souls of all the Jewish people were present at Mount Sinai and received the Torah from G-d through Moses, something of Moses' soul is projected into the souls of all Jews throughout all time.

By virtue of this spark of Moses within us, every one of us can emulate him. When we reveal our inner Moses, the fear of G-d does indeed become relatively easy to attain.

Moses personified the ability to "know" G-d, as the Torah testifies: "There was no other prophet who arose among Israel like Moses, whom G-d knew face to face." The Moses within us is thus our inborn ability to reach profound levels of Divine consciousness.

Possessing this inner spark enables us all to contemplate and meditate upon G-d's unlimited immanence and transcendence and thereby awaken ourselves to a profound awareness of His presence. Even though we may not be able to sustain this awareness constantly, the depth of its impression upon those of us who indeed contemplate it profoundly makes it relatively "simple" to reawaken this awareness at any time. Thus, "for [the] Moses [within us], it is indeed a relatively small matter."

From Kehot's Chumash