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    No great fun – Ki Tavo

    happiness happy smileWhat a terrible list of threats in the Tochechah, the warning of doom, that we read in this week’s portion!

    Nakedness, hunger, poverty and subjugation are no great pleasure. These and other horrible experiences are predicted in the relentless series of curses. True to Biblical theology, they all come as punishment for not serving God (Deut. 28:47).

    But there is something new and unexpected – not just that we didn’t serve God, but we didn’t serve Him joyfully.

    It doesn’t mean that we joyfully rebelled against Him or defied Him with glee, but we failed to serve Him with joy.

    What God wants of us is not only to serve Him, but to serve Him happily – not merely routine, perfunctory service, but getting pleasure from observing His will, finding fun in faith.

    Pinhas Peli points out that man is capable both of making God happy and of making Him sad (Gen. 6:5-6). Not what we would have expected – a God who feels emotion, who has times of joy and times of sadness.

    Speaking about Him in human terms is metaphor, it’s poetry. It uses human language not because it is really the truth but because it helps us to understand things from our limited human perspective. It helps us to see the message.

    We can’t simply turn on a switch and become instantly happy, but if we look at whatever mitzvah lies in front of us and find an aspect that makes us feel good, we make God feel good too.

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