Close to You

Close to You

“Since this commandment which I command you today, It is not estranged from you nor is it distant from you. It is not in the sky, to say who will go up to the sky and take it for us and tell it to us so we may do it. It is not past the sea, to say who will cross over the sea and take it for us and tell it to us so we may do it. Since this statement is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart to perform it. (Devarim 30 11)

It is often stated that the Torah is too difficult to understand and even more difficult to perform its commandments. This, however, is as far from the truth as light is from darkness. Indeed, for most people this statement is used to rationalize not following the Torah. The above verses teach us the opposite; that the real nature of the Torah is close to us and easy to perform.

We are first informed by the Torah that the commandments are not estranged from us. If the Torah was estranged and filled with esoteric knowledge, it would be very cruel to expect each individual to follow the Torah. This is because not everyone has the will to philosophize over such esoteric knowledge.

The Torah explains what is meant by “it is not estranged from you”, by stating “it is not in the sky”. If the Torah was in the sky, in order to understand it, we would require the assistance of men with special intellectual qualities. It might even be required to have prophecy to completely follow the Torah. Instead of this “The Torah of G-d is uncomplicated”(Psalms 18 8), “It is very close to you in your mouth and your heart to perform it.”

The Torah also explains the statement that “It is not distant from you” by informing us that “It is not past the sea” requiring special apparatus to go and take its knowledge. Studying Torah and performing mitzvot is not some strange anthropological occurrence performed by some distant people which is observed. Instead each individual can attain personal perfection through study of Torah and performing mitzvot.