A great focal point of this week's parshah is what is commonly known as the Parshas Hayir'ah. Many have the custom of reciting this inspiring paragraph daily as it somewhat sums up all that G-D is asking of us. It begins (10:12) by proclaiming ועתה ישראל מה ה' אלקיך שואל מעמך, כי אם ליראה את ה' אלקיך... "And now Yisrael what is Hashem asking of you? Only to fear Hashem your G-D…"
We can probably identify with Chazal's question (megillah 25a)- Is fear of G-D something small to ask for that Moshe Rabeinu would use the words "only to fear"? However, the Gemarah's answer is still a little troubling. "Yes, relative to Moshe it is a minuscule thing." How does this answer our question? Moshe Rabeinu was not looking in the mirror talking to himself! He was speaking to all of Klal Yisrael and, yet, he still referred to Yir'ah as something small!
The gemarah continues to present a mashal. "When one is asked to lend something he owns, even if it is quite an important object, it does not seem to be a big deal in his eyes. However, if he was asked even for something very small, but he does not have it, it feels to him like a big request." What was unclear to us that required a parable for us to understand and how does the mashal help?
Fear of G-D has multiple meanings. The Rambam (yesodei haTorah 2:2) writes that it is an emotion which results from thinking into the great and awesome wisdom of G-D, as apparent in His handiwork and Torah. The Rambam continues to write (hilchos teshuvah 10:1) that fearing the curses and punishments enumerated in the Torah is not the level of fear expected of prophets and the wise men, but rather it is appropriate for simpletons and beginners. Everyone has some level of yir'as shamayim and we all have some room to improve as well.
What level of fear is being asked of us in the parshas hayir'ah? I believe that this is the subject of discussion in the above gemarah. The gemarah simply assumed that Moshe was stating Hashem's request "only" for a level of fear that we have not yet attained. With this in mind, Chazal ask, "Is that something small to ask for?" Whereupon the gemarah answers that relative to Moshe any level of fear is quite small, not because it was easy to attain, but, as clarified in the mashal, because he has already attained that level. Everyone according to his level of achievement also feels the same way about the level of fear he already has! It is only regarding the next level - that which we have not yet reached which appears to be a big deal to ask for. Moshe was correctly using the term "only" as he was referring to the level of yir'ah that we already possess!
Perhaps, this can give us a new understanding in the beginning of this week's parshah as well. Rashi explains the first pasuk to mean that if we pay attention to the light mitzvos which people tread upon with their heels, we will be blessed. This does not necessarily refer to evil people who show disregard for G-D's commandments. This can be in reference to anyone as we naturally feel that what we have already achieved and gotten used to is not so special. We tend to look forward with excitement only to 'new' and 'different' mitzvos as the common ones we always perform lose their luster and shine.
From this we can understand that although we should strive to continuously grow in our yir'as Hashem and in all mitzvos, the parshas hayir'ah is requesting of us to just retain the level we already have and not to lose it by pursuing opposing endeavors. Let us not to be too casual and dull about the commandments we already fulfill!
May this help us have a true nechamah– a change of perspective and re-assessment – to appreciate, value and rejoice in that which we have, in place of the mourning of the beis hamikdash that we are missing.
Nachamu Nachamu Ami!
Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 7/28/2010 11:09:00 PM