How will we be judged when we get to the Heavenly Court? Will the criteria be objective or subjective? Is there one rule of thumb for everyone; or will we be judged by our own personal strengths and struggles?

Life is very confusing. Even following the Torah is not always a simple matter.

“Thou shalt not steal,” it is written. Of course not. But never? What about a parent who needs life-saving medicine for his or her child and the only way to get it is by robbing the pharmacy? Is it still forbidden?

Or what about the commandment to distance ourselves from falsehood? May we never tell a lie? What if a Nazi asks if you’re Jewish and lying may save your life?

Even when it comes to smaller things, our Sages teach that to keep the peace, certain small white lies may sometimes be permissible.

Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky,1 who founded the Zionist Revisionist movement and was Menachem Begin’s ideological mentor, was attending a cocktail party. As the story goes, he complimented one of the women on her appearance. The woman was rather frank and responded to Jabotinsky, who was not a particularly handsome fellow, “I wish I could say the same for you, Mr. Jabotinsky.”

“Why not?” asked Jabotinsky. “Do what I do. Tell a lie.”

Whether it’s about being honest, or painfully honest, life is not always simple. And doing the right thing is not always as straightforward as we may think.

Let’s examine an interesting dialogue in this week’s Torah portion, in which Moses continues addressing his people prior to his demise. He tells them that G‑d’s expectations of them are not beyond their capabilities.

“And now, Israel, what does the L‑rd your G‑d request of you? Only to fear Him, and to follow His ways...” 2

The Talmud famously asks 3 “Is fearing G‑d a small thing?” People have been striving to achieve that level of piety for millennia and, when they do, it is no small feat. What does Moses mean when he says, “What does G‑d ask of you (already)?” How can he minimize the matter of being a G‑d-fearing Jew?

And the Talmud answers, “Yes. For Moses, to be G‑d-fearing is a small matter.” For a man of his spiritual stature, to be G‑d-fearing is a very modest accomplishment. He had achieved so much more in his relationship with G‑d.

Now, let me ask you. Are you satisfied with the Talmud’s answer? What kind of answer is it? Was Moses talking to himself? Did he not appreciate that he was talking to his people, ordinary mortals of far lesser spiritual stature? For such people, being G‑d-fearing is not a simple matter at all. It is extremely challenging. Did the great prophet not know his audience?

I think we can find some insight here by consulting the Tanya4, where Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe, asks this very question.

And this is his profound answer: In every Jewish soul there exists a spark of Moses. And in every generation, there is a Moses who imparts that inspiration to the people of his time. And when we consider that spark of Moses inside us, when we look at the essence of G‑dliness in the deep recesses of our core, then we will realize that to be G‑d-fearing is but “a small thing.” And it is to that little piece of Moses inside every Jew that Moses was directing his remarks. If we only scrape the surface of our inner self, we will discover layers and layers of spirituality and connectedness within us. And it’s there for the taking.

So, yes, life can often be confusing; and doing the right thing may not always seem simple. But we can do it, because we have boundless potential. The sky is not the limit. By virtue of that little spark of Moses within us, we can reach the infinite. Never mind being G‑d-fearing, we can be so bound up with G‑d that there are, literally, no limits, no constraints, and no ceilings whatsoever.

At the end of the day, we will all be judged fairly and fittingly, according to our own strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. We will all be evaluated by our own personal talents, faculties, gifts, and potential—developed or dormant.

But one thing is for sure. We have a lot more potential than we can even imagine. We can be G‑d-fearing individuals and so much more. We can come to love and appreciate the truths of Judaism and its traditions. We can enjoy a meaningful spiritual relationship with G‑d. We can achieve the world, and beyond.

Because inside us all is a little Moses. And for Moses it is but a small thing.