The Duties of the Heart
Gate Eight: "The Gate of Introspection"
There's a question as to whether we should be introspective and dwell on
sorts of things we cited before all the time or not. After all, wouldn't
that distract us from so many other things?
At bottom we're told that if we have the mentally acuity that something
that would call for -- which not everyone has -- that we're to be
introspective "with every blink of the eye" and "each and every breath".
Why? In order to "make sure that we stand in awe and dread before G–d *all
the time*", not just when the spirit moves us.
But consider the ramifications of that. It implies that we're to
on G-d's presence and His interactions with us wherever we are and with
whomever we're with; that we're not to only talk and interact with those
others, but with G-d too, who's also there (it should occur to us)! In
words, we're to perform on two different planes at once, if you will --
speak to two different "people" at the same time while taking each one's
"feelings" into account, moment by moment. Few things are as fulfilling or
as difficult to do, and little has the potential to extend our boundaries
far as that.
Is that difficult? To be sure. But is it for us? Yes -- after all, we're
search of spiritual excellence, which not only calls for the above-cited
mental acuity but a lot of effort and dedication as well.
But, take heart, we're assured, and don't ever think your efforts to draw
close to G-d that way -- no matter how small -- are ever in vain. For Ibn
Pakudah reports that even "a little from you is a lot to Him", which he
offers an analogy for.
He asks us to consider how slowly sunlight seems to move on the ground,
to then realize that "even when it seems to only be moving a foot or so on
the ground" at a time that "it's actually moving many miles" in the
What that means to say is that no matter how little progress we detect in
our Divine service "on the ground" day after day we're to know that we've
actually managed to travel many, many miles in G-d's eyes.
(Unfortunately, though, the same is true of the effect our seemingly minor
transgressions make in the heavens. For they too leave deep and long
impressions in the cosmos even if we think otherwise.)
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org