Every Today

Rivk Olenick

"And these words that I command you today shall be upon your heart."
Va'eschanan ( Deutoronomy 6:6)
What does this mean: "and these words that I command you today These words" are the commandments that God has given to us to. The commandments are based on truths that help a person live a moral, ethical and virtuous life. The commandments help us live our lives in the most beneficial way by freeing our mind of illusions and fantasies.
Instead, we do the commands and train ourselves to live and think according to the ways of justice, kindness and truth.
This is what God demands of us "through" the commands. And so we must follow the commands every "today" in the present, so that our passions do not become the main focus of life. The commands were given thousands of years ago, and it is easy to regard them as ancient obligations that no longer apply to our life today. However, we read this same statement in the Shema every day, which means the commandments are relevant and timely and are for "today." Toras Chaim says: "What this verse is telling us is that a person should always reflect upon his way of life and be sure that he is doing the will of God as it expresses itself at the present time, "today."
What does this mean "shall be upon your heart"? The great gift of intelligence that God gave each of us is to be used to uncover the profound teachings contained in each commandment. These teachings assist us in living an upright existence, a life of emes truth, which promotes peace and unity between people. The heart relates to the kindness one uses in bringing "emes" to others. Any person with knowledge is obligated to share it not only by transmitting the knowledge to ones children, but to bring others "near to Torah." The Sifre says: "We should regard the commands with great enthusiasm and freshness, not out of habit." So this means that we should "approach" all the commands with eagerness and joy and look forward to fulfilling each one with the "desire" of doing God's will. We should also understand that "upon your heart" is rational too and within the framework of intelligence and common sense. This is all in the "how" we do the commands. Nothing is worse than taking the commandments for granted as if they have no life, as if they are stagnant or boring and no longer hold our interest - as if they've become our "enemy."
The Ramban says: "Observe God's commands out of love, and out of fear. Observe it out of love, for a lover does not despise, and observe it out of fear for if you come to reject God's authority you will not do it." Samson Raphael Hirsch says: "Accordingly the demand here is that the words spoken here as being our duty are to be kept "present" in our minds and exert a permanent influence on our hearts under the weight of these words, allow our thoughts and feelings to be mastered by them. One must bind one's inner inclinations by oath to duty." And the Sforno adds: "The expression "upon your heart" means to commit something to memory. Israel is urged to take heed of God's words and to remember them ever for the purpose of translating them into action."
Every "today" should give each of us a renewed feeling of "eagerness" to do the commands better "today" than yesterday, which brings us closer to the Will of God.

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