"For this mitzvah (Divine commandment) that I command you today, it is not
hidden from you and it is not distant...Rather, the matter is very near to
you, in your mouth and in your heart, to perform it." (Devarim/Deuteronomy
30:11-14) Ramban (1) explains that, "this mitzvah" is referring to the
mitzvah of Teshuva, regretting one's misdeeds and resolving to return to G-
d's path. On the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana, our Day of Judgment, we
remind ourselves that it is never too late to repent. "The matter is near
to you.to perform it": everyone is capable.
Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz (2) asked, "If the mitzvah is so easy, why don't
most people do it?" Even among those who believe that they are being
judged, many do not exert much effort to change their ways and improve.
Rabbi Shmulevitz explains that people allow the force of habit and natural
complacency to prevent them from changing. Many people are completely
unaware of their flaws simply because they never stopped to take an
objective "personal inventory" of actions and attitudes. Over time, even
the bad of which we are aware finds justification, and we do not
appreciate how much we have changed as a result of it. When we are unaware
of or unconcerned about our wrongdoings, we cannot do teshuva for them.
In the business world, it is common to periodically reexamine progress, to
analyze ones successes and failures. By doing so, successful businesses
identify methods to improve and grow the company. A relatively small
investment of time and effort in this way produces a bounty of substantive
results. This is no less true for the business of G-d consciousness. When
we set aside the time to think about our actions, we may find that we are
being selfish, impatient, critical, short-tempered, or performing mitzvos
by rote without the appropriate sincerity. Once we realize what the
problems are, we can plan and consult to chart the path to improvement and
We can and must change. When we strive and expend the effort, we will
emerge different people. Through the transformation we create and in the
merit of our efforts, may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.
Have a Good Shabbos!
(1) acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, Nachmanides; 1194-1270; native of
Gerona, Spain, he was one the leading scholars of the Middle Ages and
successfully defended Judaism at the famed debate in Barcelona in 1263 (2)
Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of the Mir Yeshiva, who led his students from the ashes
of the European Holocaust to the glory of Jerusalem