Living Torah by Rabbi Ari Enkin

rabbi enkinThis week’s Torah portion is “Re’eh” (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17). This week’s Torah portion spells out a very serious choice that we all have to make. Good or Evil. Blessing or Curse. Life or Death. And we are told of the consequences that can befall those who don’t do the right things and don’t make the right choices.

“Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. The blessing – if you heed the commandments of the Lord. And the curse – if you will not observe His commandments…”

The Jewish people are given a choice: the blessing or the curse. It’s in our hands to make either a reality. Quite simple, too, actually. All we have to do is keep the Torah and observe its commandments. But here’s the key: It’s one or the other. There’s no cherry picking allowed. One may not say: “I like that mitzva! I’m gonna do it….But THAT one, no way!” and all similar calculations. Religion is a full cup – not a half cup. Indeed, as King David the Psalmist says: “…My cup overflows”. The cup of Torah must not only be full – it must overflow.

Our commitment, our observance, and most importantly, our Love for God and His Torah must overflow. You’re either in or you’re out. Make no mistake, however. God doesn’t seek perfection. He seeks effort and He seeks commitment. It is based solely on efforts whether it will be blessings or curses that follow.

But there’s another mistake that many people make. The ‘blessings’ that God promises does not mean that gold will begin falling from heaven through your chimney. So too, the ‘curses’ doesn’t necessarily mean illness, death, or destruction. “Blessing” is defined simply as things going the way they should be. It means happiness in the home and pleasure from one’s children. It means that promotion at work you were hoping for, or even the few extra vacation days your boss throws at you. It means finding the parking spot you had hoped for so you need not walk too far in the heat or rain. And there are many more examples of the blessings that God can send – many of which He already does – but that we fail to notice or properly appreciate.

Friends, let’s not lose focus. The task is in upon us and within our reach to accomplish. The Torah is not a difficult way of life to follow nor are we expected to begin observing the entire Torah immediately. Baby steps. Bit by bit. Mitzva by mitzva. A Shabbat dinner. A mezuza on the door. A donation to charity.

The word “Re’eh” means “to Behold”. Our Torah portion is telling us to look at the Torah and consider it carefully. When we “behold” its beauty we naturally wish to observe its mitzvot and live a Torah lifestyle. When we do, we will truly “Behold” all the blessings that God gives us. The big and the small. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

Rabbi Ari Enkin

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