Rebbe Nachman of Breslov once remarked, “A little bit is also good.”
If you had asked me when I was a yeshiva bachur if I ever learn Shulchan Aruch, I would have answered, “Of course.” But if you had asked me if I learned 365 halachos in the course of a year – one a day – I would have answered, “No.” This is because when I saw that I could not maintain the demanding study program of the yeshiva, I would become upset and frustrated. Regrettably, I had an all-or-nothing attitude. If I wasn’t feeling inspired on any given day, that day was written off as a “bad day.” Unrealistic expectations for myself were my own worst enemy.
Comes along Rebbe Nachman and tells us, “A little bit is also good.” Wow! So simple but yet so profound. If only I had thought this way from the beginning.
Rebbe Nachman understood the tricks of the yetzer hara. He understood that little voice in my head that told me, “Today just isn’t your day. Maybe tomorrow.” What’s the rebuttal to that little voice? “A little bit is also good!”
The source for this idea is in the Midrash: “Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai said, ‘Learn two or three perakim of Mishnayos on Shabbos, two or three halachos a day, two or three parshas a month, and you will end up very rich [in Torah knowledge]. About this, the verse says, “One who gathers a handful at a time will eventually have much (Mishlei 13:11), but one who says, ‘Tomorrow I will study’ ends up with nothing” (Yalkut Shimoni; Mishlei 945:2).
This leads us to another wonderful piece of advice by Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter. He advises everyone to make an unbending commitment to learn two halachos every day. Although this doesn’t take very much time, at the end of the year we will have learned 700 halachos. We will also be in fulfillment of what the Gemara says, “The Academy of Eliyahu taught: He who learns halachos every day has the assurance that he will be in the World to Come” (Megillah 28b).
This idea can be extended to all areas of Judaism. Here are some examples: commit to saying one or two Psalms (Tehillim) every day, commit to immersing in the mikvah before Shabbos once a month, commit to calling a parent or loved one for no particular reason once a week, commit to giving a few pennies to tzedaka every other day, etc.
You get the idea. Every person should give thought to what “little” mitzvos they can incorporate into their daily schedules. The effect of these “little” mitzvos will be life-altering. As Ben Azai tell us, “The reward for doing one mitzvah is the opportunity to do another mitzvah” (Avos 4:2).