A Torah lifestyle, more often than not, leads to better families, better marriages, more happiness, and a more meaningful life…and THAT is the only blessing/reward we truly need!
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Re’eh” (Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17) and boy, is it jam packed!
It includes an indirect, mysterious mention of the Talmud and Oral Law, reminding us that it is vital to proper observance of the Torah. (Deuteronomy 12:21!) Re’eh contains over 50 commandments, talks about false prophets and false messiahs, discusses the three pilgrimage holidays, introduces the idea of the Chosen People, in addition to so much more!
The Torah portion opens with a promise of blessings for keeping the commandments of the Torah and of curses for those who do not. Regarding the promise for blessings, the Torah says: “The blessing – that you observe the commandments of God.” Regarding the curse, it says: “If you do not observe the commandments of God.”
The Torah tells us that the curse will come “if” the people disobey the Torah’s laws. But when it comes to the blessing, it simply says that the blessing will come “that you observe the commandments.”
It is explained that this difference in wording is teaching us that curses will only come when neglecting the individual commandments of the Torah, actively disobeying, while blessings come naturally, passively. In other words, blessings are not subject to a scorecard for every mitzvah we do, but rather, by simply living a Torah lifestyle we will be blessed.
Indeed, although all but rejected, there is a theory among rabbinic philosophers that there is no true reward for the performance of the mitzvot. Rather, the reward is the exciting and meaningful life that comes from a Torah lifestyle.
So too, those who do not lead a Torah lifestyle usually have less meaningful lives, and that is the “curse” or “punishment.”
In the opinion of Maimonides, reward and punishment is primarily reserved for the Next World. He says that the reward for doing good deeds in this world is…the opportunity to do more good deeds!
One good deed leads to another!
Perhaps any material rewards God gives us in this world are simply in order to be able to do more good deeds. Furthermore, it is explained that any reward in this world for observing the holy Torah would simply be insufficient. The great rewards for the observance of any commandments can only be fully “paid back,” so to speak, in the Next World.
Our attitude should direct us to observe the Torah because it is the right thing to do.
A Torah lifestyle, more often than not, leads to better families, better marriages, more happiness, and a meaningful life…and THAT is the only blessing/reward we truly need. Whether God will reward us in this world or the Next World should be irrelevant. We serve God just ‘because,’ and you will feel the rewards in your own way.
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.
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