In our Torah portion, Emor, in a section dealing with the Festivals, we have, suddenly, a commandment telling us that when we reap the harvest, we should not gather in all that grows in the corner of the field, nor gather the gleanings of the harvest. We should leave them for the poor.
This might seem insignificant compared to the celebrations of these magnificent holidays; and yet, the Rabbis suggest that when talking to a would-be proselyte, we should refer to them. We should explain that Judaism has difficult laws to obey, but also lighter mitzvot–like the harvest laws.
Rabbi Eliahu Dressler, in Michtav MeEliahu, explains: man’s essential character is exposed with utmost clarity through the less significant actions which he performs, by the day-to-day routines of life.
Our character, then, is determined, not by the big deeds, but by the little ones. Not by the large donations, but the weekly, small ones in the pushke. Not by the big trips with the kids, but the hour every day playing on the floor or throwing the ball around. Not by showing up for the shiva call, but by showing concern during the weeks and months after the bereavement.
And, for some, not by the holiday candles we light for Passover or Rosh Hashanah, but by the Shabbat candles every week.
Rabbi David Vorspan, Rabbi-in-Residence