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    The real blessing – Re’eh

    free choiceIt is a stark choice at the beginning of the sidra: we can have blessings, and we can have curses. The choice is in our hands.

    The blessing is “if you hearken to the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day” (Deut. 11:27). The obvious way of understanding this verse is like this: opt for blessing, hearken to God, have blessing. What kind of blessing? Corn, wine and oil. Prosperity, satiety, security. Joy, peace, serenity.

    An alternative interpretation goes like this: there will be blessing “if you hearken”: i.e. the blessing is that you hearken. The greatest blessing is not material but spiritual, not earthly but ethereal. You are blessed by knowing there is a God, blessed by knowing you are in His presence, blessed by hearing His call and responding to His voice. The blessings that come from this world are not nearly as great as those which link earth to heaven.

    The way to those blessings is spelt out in the portion: “Choose!” All very well, but can one consciously choose to believe?

    Intellectually, one can place the arguments for belief in one column and the arguments for non-belief in another. It is possible that one will be more convinced by the first column, but also possible that the second column will prevail. And even if one says, “Logic tells me to believe”, is there a guarantee that real belief will follow?

    The approach of the verse that says, “Hearken”, is quite different. It says, “Look at the majesty of Creation, at the grandeur of the human spirit, at the magnificence of the Creator. Hear the wind in the trees, the rustle of the leaves, the still small voice of conscience and morality.

    How can your eyes not see and your ears not hear? How can you perceive reality and not believe?”

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