What is Within

Naomi Deitsch
Creative 2020 / Finalists

כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד בפיך ובלבבך לעשותו

Because it is very close to you in your mouth and in your heart to observe it…

This pasuk is in Devarim (chapter 30, pussuk 14). Moshe is speaking to Bnei Yisroel, and he tells them to observe the Mitzvos.

The Alter rebbe quotes the pasuk קרוב כי ,on the title page of his Tanya. This pasuk represents the whole purpose of the Tanya, and why the Alter Rebbe chose to write this sefer.

This pasuk speaks of one’s obligation to serve Hashem, and that itis very near to every Jew. It’s near through three channels: “your heart”, “your mouth”, and “to do it”. These three channels are our thought, speech, and action.

In a deeper sense, “your heart”, refers to the emotions that we experience in our heart: love and awe of Hashem; and when one acquires these two emotions they become more observant and therefore it is “very near to them.”

The Alter Rebbe teaches us that a man’s nature is to desire physicality but to love Hashem one needs to totally shift this desire to desire G-dliness. However, this is seemingly not easy. How can we reconcile our experience with this statement: “It is very close to you?” To do this one has to kindle and awaken his hidden love and awe that he already has for Hashem.

This concept is really practical and an important insight to remember on a daily basis. It is a known concept for one to go to “seek one’s spiritual connection”. To go far to India, and suchlike places and g-dliness will be found there. To go to a specific specialist to arouse one’s inner self and spirituality. It is common that one may set out to search for meaning, or that a person may find themselves feeling lost.

כי קרוב instills this idea that what we are searching for is within. This may sound metaphorical and unbelievable, though this needs to be practical. We all have a Neshama that is one with Hashem. We all have a deep source of truth, clarity and the meaning of life within us. We have the infinite capacity for goodness, love, and confidence. We all have the ability to reach inside and grab hold of this connection and use it in our Avodas Hashem.

In a person’s Avodah, there are mitzvot that are easier and some that need that are more challenging. For some, tznius is uncompromisable, though, gossip may be taken more lightly. For others, keeping Kashrus and Shabbos are obstinate, while Lashon Hara is more negotiable. The fact that one may find a Mitzvah attainable or easy, and others find different Mitzvos doable or undoable, proves this theme. Our capability to love and serve Hashem is close to us. In some aspects, this idea is revealed, and in the others, it is our job to reveal it. To reveal it by searching for what is within.

I chose to demonstrate this idea through a creative project. In my 3D model, the man is searching through a telescope far and wide for his connection to Hashem, for his ability to serve Hashem. Little does he know that it is right near him. Right in him! It is under his foot, it is in his basket. His job is to put down his telescope and to realize what he has. If he would look at what he is standing on, or what he is facing his back to, he wouldn’t have to ever search. He has the tools at his fingertips, and all he has to do is reach for them.