Eikev Asher tishmiun/If you will only listen to do the laws that G-d set forth. Eikev, if you will only. The root of the word is heel and the commentaries tell us not to grind any of the commandments under your heel as if they were dust, or small commandments which could be neglected.
We don’t say to a baby, oh you learned how to sit, why aren’t you crawling yet. We don’t say to a child who is crawling, why aren’t you running yet. Each step, however small, whenever it comes, is part of the process of growth and development. Never belittle a small commandment, like saying Modeh Ani/Thank you G-d because a person does not know how to pray an entire prayer, for it is amazing in and of itself to thank G-d in any way, but it is also part of the process of spiritual growth and development.
I am at JLI giving lectures, sitting with Sinai Scholars letting them know that whatever path or career or life they choose to lead, there is always room for G-d in their lives. As I said:
I know who you are
I know because we are brothers and sisters, we share one of three parents.
Two of your parents gave you the color of your hair and eyes and their DNA for disposition.
The third parent that we share, gave us all HIS divine image. He blew His spirit into us when He created us. It lays internally, highly inflammable.
There are Orthodox parents who have a home environment and send their children to schools where there is kindling all around, which provides a fertile environment which promotes the kindling of the spark within the soul. When the soul finds the right spark, it ignites powerfully, but then each person is mandated to stoke the fire within, so that he remains inspired and dedicated to G-d.
There are many people here at JLI, who were not fortunate enough to be in an environment where they even knew that laying dormant within them was this spark waiting to be united. Then they meet someone, someone who has a blazing flame inside his soul, and that blazing soul, kindles the spark in the unaffiliated Jew. The Sinai Scholars college students who are here, were touched by thousands of Chabad Rabbis on college campuses around the country, whose mission is to let the unaffiliated Jews know, they have a soul, to spark the soul, ignite it, and help that student learn how to stoke his/her own soul.
What seems as easy commandments to us, those we easily discard or trample on under our feet, are important and significant starting points for millions of Jews around the world who are starting off their journey in Judaism.
CHABAD GETS THIS RIGHT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. The love they bring to all kinds of Jews from all over the world. They open their hearts and arms in love and peace, come kinder, rest, let me introduce you to your Father in Heaven and give you a piece of kugel and light your inner soul. Being here with 1,100 people who came to have their soul flames kindled and stoked.
Every single solitary person standing here, and I mean every single one of them, is suffused with joy and being part of this bigger event whose purpose is to inspire.
Today is Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis’ first yahrtzeit. She spent her life discussing the pintele yid/the spark of a jew, that is within each person. When she spoke about this pintele yid, her face lit up like a torch, her passion inspiring all who were lucky enough to hear her lecture.
In her lifetime, she went into the cults that grabbed hold of Jews and were brainwashing them. Jews who were looking to spark their souls and didn’t know where to turn. She took hold, grabbed and tight, and gave them the love they needed. The love of the schinah/holy spirit, and it filled a hole in their lives that for which they were searching. She brought them close, helped them light and stoke their flame from within and started them in the path of a Torah observant Jew.
So often, I heard her speak about the pintele yid and did not understand its great significance. I now understand, being here at JLI, that the pintele yid is everything. Our own sparked souls are what sustain us in our material world that encroaches with darkness trying to extinguish the beauty of the light of the soul. But if we use our soul only for our own needs, then we negate the purpose of a candle, which is to light the space around you, then have the ability to transmit the flame to others, so that they may pay it forward as well.
We learned from the Torah that Moses was concerned when G-d asked him to transmit his ability to prophecy to the 70 elderly wisemen, he was concerned that by transmitting it to others, his own light would thereby be diminished. The commentaries tell us that G-d addressed this concern with Moses by telling him that his prophecy abilities are like a candle from which you can light thousands of other candles, and the initial flame never diminishes.
In sum, the Rabbis tell us:
If I am not for myself who will be? If I don’t take care of my own spirituality, to light my flame from within and keep it stoked, no one else can do it for me. Others can want to help you want to light your flame, but each person has to take responsibility for lighting the flame, going to classes, performing initial commandments.
Say the rabbis: But if I am only for myself, what am I? If I keep my flame covered and don’t let the flame light my area and those around me, then what am i? I am not the Jewish flame envisioned whose purpose is to light up the lives of those around her.
The Rabbis conclude: And if not now, then when. The dormant soul is yearning to be kindled. Every day which passes that it remains dormant, is a day of opportunity missed to uplift the soul, to stoke the soul and transmit that light to others.
Look inside, light your flame, keep it stoked, transmit it to others, don’t smash any commandment under your heel because it is too small, it is the necessary stepping stone to greatness.