Rabbi Avram Skurowitz, Ed.D.,
Principal, Brauser Maimonides Academy
In this week's parsha, Moshe asks the Jewish nation, "now, Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d ask of you but to fear Him, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and soul... and to observe His commandments that I present to you this day for your good." (Dvarim 10:12-13).
After hearing the words, "what does G-d ask of you but ...," one would expect to hear a single request, and one that would be relatively easy to fulfill. Instead, we hear a five-part request. To "fear" G-d really means to be in awe of G-d, and to behave properly at all times in recognition of the fact that one is always in His presence. To "walk in His ways" means to emulate the Almighty. The Talmud tells us how to fulfill this edict: "just as He is merciful, you too should be merciful, just as He is giving, so should you be." To love G-d presupposes that one will have a relationship with G-d. Relationships that result in love require giving. One also sacrifices for those whom he loves. Serving G-d with all one's heart and soul requires unlimited time and energy. Observing all of the mitzvot requires knowledge and dedication. Taken together, the fulfillment of these "simple" requests would take a lifetime of commitment.
The question is obvious. Perhaps an answer may be found at the conclusion of the verse, "to observe His commandments that I present you for your own good. One benefits from each and every one of these requests to the degree that he strives to fulfill them. It is as if one would say to a worker he hired to repair his porch, "All I ask of you is to purchase the wood and other materials, use screws and not nails, paint the sides white and the floor gray, and consult me if there are any options along the way, and I will pay you $100 per hour for each and every one of the steps involved." At that amount, the hired worker would welcome additional components to the job.
When one is benefiting in return, no request is too large. We should all look upon performing mitzvot as opportunities - to benefit financially, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually as well as the opportunity to further develop our relationship with the Almighty.