“See I place before you today, a blessing and a curse. The blessing that you will listen to the commandments of your G-d, that I command you today. And the curse if you will not listen to the commandments of your G-d . . .” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 11:26-28). The Hebrew word for see, re’eh, is in the singular form. So when Moses begins his address, he makes it a point to emphasize he is speaking to each person individually lest someone think that Moses is speaking to his neighbor, not to him. But what is the true meaning of his message?

You Get to Choose if Your Life is Blessed

The parsha for this Sabbath is Re’eh. In it we learn about the blessing and curse that the Children of Israel will receive soon, the holiness of the land and more about how the Israelites will be required to conduct themselves there, how to respond to a false prophet and one who tries to entice another to go astray, what it means to be G-d’s treasured people, tithes, forgiving loans, being generous with ones fellow Jew, how a Jewish slave is to be treated, and the three pilgrimage festivals.

One of the most difficult aspects of my work as a chaplain is helping people who have lost their sense of purpose. Especially among those who ideate suicide, such a deficit can be catastrophic. Recovery is extremely difficult since filling a physical, emotional, and spiritual void is a lengthy, arduous endeavor.

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Sforno comments that Moses’s personal charge leaves no middle way. If you live by the commandments, which are the ways you create a relationship with G-d, you will live a blessed life. If not, you will live a cursed life. The practical side of the commandments is they infuse your life with meaning. Thus, although later in Deuteronomy G-d will give details about the nature of the blessing and curse, the purpose you get from living a life devoted to creating a relationship with the Creator is the biggest blessing you can ever receive. When you internalize the idea that your Heavenly Parent loves you, is interested in your welfare and growth, and wants to be a part of your life you need never feel alone again.

The reverse, to lead a life devoid of meaning, is to lead a cursed life.

You get to choose. While the allure of a life of abundance may seem the greater blessing, wealth has its own curses. That is why when you choose to follow the commandments you literally are choosing life. What could be more valuable than that?

Question – When G-d brings hardship into your life, how do you turn that misfortune into a blessing?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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