And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? — Deuteronomy 10:12–13
The Torah portion for this week is Eikev, which means “therefore” or “heel,” from Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 49:14–51:3.
At one point or another most of us have asked the questions: “Why am I here? Why did God create me? What does God want from me?” In Deuteronomy 10:12, we get an answer. Here is what the great prophet Moses says: “ . . . what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God . . .” The Jewish sages see the rest of the verse, which list things like loving God and being obedient, as all stemming from the underlying principle of “fear of God.” Fear God, and all else will follow.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, it’s not easy to reach the level of walking around with fear of God all the time.
The sages explain that for Moses, fear of God came naturally. He was deeply aware of God and communicated with Him in a way unlike anyone else. The sages add that fear of God was also relatively easy for the generation to whom Moses was speaking. These were the people who lived in the desert and witnessed countless miracles, such as the falling of the daily manna from the heavens and the Clouds of Glory that surrounded them. They, too, had an acute awareness of God. But what about us? How are we to instill fear of God and an awareness of Him throughout the day in a world that pushes God more and more to the periphery?
The sages give us some great advice that they find hidden in this very verse. They suggest that we make no less than 100 blessings a day. In Judaism, we have blessings for everything from hearing thunder to going to the bathroom. But you don’t need to say these exact blessings. The point is to be grateful for 100 things every day. “Thank you, God, for this new day and the work you have given me to do.” “Thanks, God, for my good health.” “Wow, that thunder is awe inspiring! You are awesome God!” Do this 100 times a day, advise the sages, and your awareness of the Almighty in your life will increase greatly.
When people hear the term “fear of God” they often envision a punishing God who should be feared. However, as the sages’ advice suggests, true fear of God is having such a great awareness of His presence and His love that you could not possibly sin! In other words, “How could I do something against the One who feeds me, takes care of me, and created the beautiful sunsets that I see with the eyes that He has given me?”
All God wants from us is to know that He is here. Then we will revere Him, love Him, and know exactly why we are here!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President