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Blessing & Curse, How Much Is In Our Own Hands?
Commentary to Parashat Ki Tavo
By Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok Copyright © 2000 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
In this parasha we read one of the most ominous sections of the entire Torah – the blessings which come along with our observance of the mitzvot and the curses which come about as a result of our rebelliousness. While the blessings are sublime and lofty, the curses boggle the mind. How could so many bad things happen just because one doesn’t observe the mitzvot? Many who read this parasha understand the section of the blessings and the curses with a childlike simplicity. Their attitude is one that says “if I am good, then “daddy” HaShem will give me good things and if I am bad then “daddy” HaShem will “spank” me.” While childlike understandings are quite innocent, they are also quite immature. When we view HaShem’s blessings and curses as simply being Divine impositions on us and our world, we loose sight of the essential matter - how much of what happens is our own responsibility? One of the finest lines that a religious person must walk is the razor’s edge between faith in HaShem and individual responsibility. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “G-d helps those who help themselves.” When it comes to examining the blessings and the curses in light of 2,500 years of Jewish persecution, some disturbing questions arise. How much effort are we supposed to put into molding our own destiny? In other words, are we able to affect and/or neutralize HaShem’s curses, based on the actions that we take? When should we simply stand back in faith and allow HaShem, through nature, to take its course? When is too little mitzvah observance not enough? When is enough enough? I believe that if we had the answers to these questions and lived by them Mashiah would have been here a long time ago and our world would have achieved the 1
Copyright © 1993 - 2003 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
long sought after utopia. issues, B’ezrat HaShem.
Nonetheless, I will endeavor to address these important
It is interesting to note that as our understandings of science and technology grow, we begin to see a connection between disciplines that were previously thought to be unrelated. According to classical Newtonian physics, to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While Newton discussed this law of physics with regards to physical objects, we also see that it is applicable in the realms of psychology and spirituality. Therefore, depending upon what we do and how we live, will define for us the type of lifestyle we lead and in what type of environment we will live. According to Newton, everything is in our hands. Everything operates by the Divinely ordained laws of nature that G-d set into motion in the beginning. Since then, Newton postulated, HaShem stepped back from the world and allows nature to operate by itself. According to Newton, everything is set in its path, with no alternatives available. If this is true, then human responsibility means everything! Whatever actions we perform, we create its reaction, whether for good or for bad. This is a very mechanical view of the world, where everything is very simple. Yet, as modern physics developed, we soon recognized another view other than Newton’s. Einstein and others discovered that there is a lot more to this universe of ours than meets the eye. Just as this is true of the laws of physics so is it true of the realms of psychology and spirituality. Things are much deeper and more complicated than we can possibly imagine. The apparent simple cause and effect relationship is seen in physics to be not entirely accurate. This is also true in the realms of psychology and spirituality. Modern physics has discovered that there is a peculiar measureless random element at...
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