The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory, fervently encouraged all Jewish children to study and commit to memory twelve verses culled from every area of Torah wisdom and literature. Each passage – Infinite wisdom condensed – was thoughtfully selected with children in mind, and presents a fundamental lesson for a Jew’s daily service of G-d in a clear and concise way, that can be contemplated and discussed anywhere. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was one Jewish leader who had full confidence in the power of youth to make incredible positive impact, and to inspire and teach their friends, too! Hashem believes in YOU to be an ambassador of light, and invites you to become a soldier in His army, with a mission to increase goodness and holiness wherever you go… and reciting the Twelve Torah Pessukim is a fantastic place to start! Come on a journey with me, as I too learn these timeless citations alongside their inner meaning, then how we can apply and take them to heart!
Note from the author: When it comes to making a general statement about people, although I often tend to make pronoun-references in the masculine form (e.g. him, his, he, etc.), please bear in mind the concepts discussed are equally relevant to girls and women.
“KI KAROV EILECHA HADAVAR ME’OD BEFICHA UVILVAVCHA LA’ASOSO – THE MATTER (TO FOLLOW THE TORAH) IS EXCEEDINGLY CLOSE TO YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR HEART, THAT YOU MAY DO IT. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:14)
First, I’m given 613 Mitzvos like every other Jew to keep. Top that with an Infinite Torah to study. And don’t forget 24/7 conscious consideration of every aspect of both my inner and outer conduct to ensure it mirrors what Hashem wants to see from me. Seems like a pretty tall order already to fill, huh? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Enter, Yetzer Hara, whose incessant distractions antithetical to anything good and holy perpetuate civil war within me. How on earth am I expected to manage it all – I’m a little nobody! From where do I draw the strength to serve G-d?
Hashem Himself assures us that if we try, we will succeed (we don’t even need to overexert ourselves!), exactly because “Ki karov eilecha hadavar me’od b’ficha uvilvavcha la’asoso”: The entire matter of Avodas Hashem – in whatever shape or form – is incredibly within our reach (i.e. “close”), and NOT exclusive to heaven or the elite of tzaddikim (perfectly righteous people undisturbed by darker impulses). Studying Torah, doing Mitzvot, battling to keep a pure, positive, focused mind – all are achievable goals in the class of serving Hashem fittingly. This is accomplished to the maximum when we come to know G-d in all our ways, by imbuing constant and daily activity with sanctity through our words (i.e. “mouth”), our thoughts and emotions (compounded in the “heart”), which are translated into practical action (i.e. “to do”).
We are empowered – given the tools, faculties, and therefore potential – to actualize the Divine will and a better world via our trio of ‘spiritual garments,’ of thought, speech and deed. The previously “impossible” truly becomes, “I’m possible!” “Ki karov eilecha” reminds us how G-d never commissions us with a task beyond our capabilities, thus making possible the fulfillment of His will to spread G-dliness wherever we go. When you recognize how serving Hashem is close (i.e. practical) for you, and you act upon that, there is no possible excuse to fabricate that will prevent you from doing good! Even if it’s a challenging task at the beginning, the more we condition ourselves to carry it out, the more natural it becomes in every area of our life.
How can you practice, exercise those spiritual muscles of yours? Remember, until you’ve come across something which pushes you outside your comfort zone, you aren’t authentically serving Hashem (which means having to make an effort)! It is also important to keep in mind that nobody has succeeded without failing at times. Just start, and the more you do – the more you stretch – the easier it will become. Nu, what are you waiting for? “Ki karov eilecha” – let’s get started!