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    For goodness’ sake – Ki Tavo

    do the right thingTwice a year, including this Shabbat, we read a Tochechah – a list of curses. The curses come as the outcome of disobedience. Very simple, very straightforward, and in today’s world very way-out.

    Doing the right thing, not because society says so, not because it brings fame and status, not because you are afraid of suffering, but because God says so? How quaint, how old-fashioned!

    Bertrand Russell wondered why the non-believer should not perpetrate wanton cruelty, and he asked whether the answer had to be merely, “I don’t do it because I don’t like it!” On that basis we all have things we don’t like, and if what you don’t like runs counter to what I don’t like, so much the worse.

    When your neighbour is in trouble, do you say, “So what? If I’m OK, why does it matter to me how he is?”

    The Torah has a more objective answer: what is good is because God says so, what is bad is what God rejects. It’s not up to individual judgment, to a person choosing to do (in Biblical parlance) “that which is right in his own eyes”.

    History constantly shows that when mankind rejects God, human values vanish. When mankind reclaims God, we re-gain standards of right and wrong.

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