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Re'eh

Thursday, 9th August 2018

The opening three psukim (verses) of the sedra (Torah portion) tell us that should we listen to HaShem (G-d) we will get bracha (blessing), and should we ignore HaShem’s word then we will get klala (curse). But the Torah does not then go on to tell us what these blessings and curses are. Why not?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein answers beautifully that the answer is embedded within the simple reading of the psukim (verses) themselves. The pasuk (verse) says ‘the bracha that you listen to HaShem’s mitzvos…and the curse if you do not listen to HaShem’s mitzvos…’ The bracha is the mitzvos themselves, and the curse is failing to keep the mitzvos.

As the Ohr Hachaim (and Messilas Yesharim) spells out, if one keeps the mitzvos and their spirit properly then there is no greater feeling of happiness, achievement, and fulfilment from doing those mitzvos. And the converse is true too; there’s nothing more conducive to a life of drabness, emptiness, and lack of fulfilment than a life bereft of mitzvos.

Similarly, as Rashi writes (Bamidbar 18:7), the greatest gift is the ability and privilege to serve HaShem - that is the only thing which uplifts us as people.

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