In Deuteronomy chapter 30 verses 11 thru 14 Moses reassures the Jewish people that the commandment which he has presented to them is not hidden nor is too far. Quite the opposite, it is very near to our mouths and our hearts to do it.
How is the commandment close to us? How close is it for us to fulfill every directive of God to perfection? King Solomon exclaims: Who can say that I have purified my heart I am cleansed from my sin? (Proverbs 20:9). In the book of Job we read of the imperfection of angels; certainly no human can be perfect (Job 4:18). How then can Moses tell us that the law that he is presenting to us is “close”? What is “close” about it?
Perhaps we can understand this by focusing on the words of verse 14. Moses says that it is “hadavar” – “the thing” that is close to us. “Hadavar” is the one single thing; it is this one thing that is close.
Following the law consists of many different steps. We must study the law and we must pray to the Giver of the Law, we must walk in the ways of God and be holy as God is holy, we must practice kindness and justice, and so much more. But as people that live within the boundary of time there is always only one thing in front of us here and now. Perhaps it is our time for learning and there is one line of Torah that demands our attention, our power of concentration, our hearts and our minds. Perhaps we are talking to someone and the responsibility of the moment is to exercise humility and sensitivity in our relationship with another person. Perhaps we are about to speak words of prayer before God and the call of the moment is to pour our hearts into the words we are going to say. We might be in a place of solitude and our loyalty to God demands that we bring to mind God’s blessings and turn our thoughts away from that which God has not granted to us.
Whatever path we take in life there is always only one commandment that is in front of us right now.
It is a mistake to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the work we see ahead of us down the road. At this point in time we don’t need the power to do the work of tomorrow so there is no reason for God to give it to us now. But we can be sure that God will give us the strength to take the very next step.
And there is always only one step in front of you here and now.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal