Devar Torah for Parshas Re’eh 5781

Another Chance to Choose Life

At the very beginning of this week’s Torah reading (Parshat Re’eh), G-d asks us to pay attention to the following (Deuteronomy 11:27):

“See, today I set before you blessing and curse”

Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (15 April 1847 – 11 January 1905), known as the Sfas Emes, has an interesting take on this. The idea that G-d gave “Free will” to Man is well-known: We have a choice between blessing (doing what is “good” in the eyes of G-d) and curse (doing what is “bad” in the eyes of G-d). But what happens if a man chooses “bad”? His free will to choose “good” can soon disappear. We saw this with Pharaoh in Egypt – once he started to mistreat the Jews, G-d took away his free will. We see this today, too: Once a person chooses to take drugs or to commit crimes, it is very difficult to extricate himself from this position.

“How can I now start following the commandments after I did (fill in the blank)? Won’t G-d be upset with me for being hypocritical?” is a typical excuse.

Comes along this verse and reminds us “TODAY I set before you blessing and curse”.

The Sfas Emes tells us that every day G-d renews our FREE WILL. Every day we have the ability to choose between GOOD and BAD. We do not have to be stuck in our bad choices, but we have the ability to get out of whatever lowly state we are in.

A person might sin EVERY SINGLE DAY of his life, yet G-d doesn’t give up on him. Instead, EVERY SINGLE DAY G-d puts the choice of doing GOOD in front of him and says, “I know you and I have not given up on you. Here are your choices again of GOOD and BAD. Choose GOOD!”

G-d doesn’t give up on us. So too we should not give up on ourselves, no matter how “far gone” we think we might be!

Wishing you all a GOOD SHABBOS!

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