This dvar Torah is based on part of a shmuz given by Rav Moshe Chait zt”l, who was Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim, zechus yagen aleinu.
When speaking in terms of Fear of Heaven, Yiras Shamayim, if a person is a real Yirei Shamayim he will do a mitzvah at the highest level he can reach.
There is a story of a new yeshiva student in Slobodka who was entrenched in his frumkeit, and would daven very loud in a minyan. The Alter of Slobodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, asked one of his students to pass by this yeshiva bachur’s room one time when he was davening alone to see if he davens very loudly alone too.
There is an expression in the world called Yiras Shamayim, people are called “Big Yirei Shamayim” but what kind of instrument is used to measure Fear of Heaven?
This week is the double Torah portions of Achrei Mos and Kedoshim in the portion of Kedoshim in one of the pesukim it says, “You shall not curse a deaf person. You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person, and you shall fear your G-D. I am Hashem” (Vayikra 19:14).
Rashi on this pasuk writes, “and you shall fear your God: [Why is this mentioned here?] Because this matter [of misadvising someone] is not discernible by people, whether this person had good or evil intentions, and he can avoid [being recriminated by his victim afterwards] by saying, “I meant well!” Therefore, concerning this, it says, “and you shall fear your God,” Who knows your thoughts! Likewise, concerning anything known to the one who does it, but to which no one else is privy, Scripture says, “and you shall fear your God.” – [Torath Kohanim 19:34]”
Rashi explains that this person is not literally blind, but, for example, he does not know how to conduct his business affairs properly. So one should not give him bad advice, such as if someone were to ask if he should sell his field and his friend says I’ll buy it for a donkey. The friend’s intent was only for his own gain, to acquire the land.
About this kind of thing the Torah says: “And you shall fear Hashem your G-D.” These kind of cases could turn out badly and someone will lose, but the person who gave the advice will say ‘It is not my fault, I only tried to help, I am your friend,’ when in fact he purposefully thwarted his plans. No one will ever know what his real intentions were. That is why it says “and you shall fear Hashem your G-D;” for He knows.
Later in the perek it says, “Before an elder you shall stand and you shall glorify the face of a sage, and you shall fear your G-D, I am Hashem” (Vayikra 19:32).
Rashi on this pasuk points out, “one might think that he may close his eyes [when the elder approaches], as if he did not see him [and thus evade the obligation to rise before him]! Therefore Scripture adds here, “and you shall fear your God,” for this matter is privately known to the one who commits it, and no one knows about it except the person himself, and, concerning any matter known only in the heart [of one person,], Scripture says, “and you shall fear your God,” [for God knows man’s thoughts]. — [Torath Kohanim 19:80; Kid. 31b, 32b]”
What are a person’s real intentions? When an old person or a sage walks by he looks away and claims he never saw him, but what was he really thinking? Fear of Heaven is purely a private experience between man and Hashem so no one can really claim this guy is a big Yirei Shamayim. Only Hashem knows and any one that tries to judge is acting like they are G-D.
The Alter of Slobodka said that Yiras Shamayim is pure ruchniyus, unadulterated spirituality, and one cannot measure pure ruchniyus.