August 15, 2022 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'Var Torah) -- Re'eh

Parshah Re'eh opens with what may be the most important verse in the Torah for modern Jews: "See, this day I set before you blessing and curse." (Deut. 11:26). Moses is trying to persuade the Israelites to do the right thing (i.e., follow God's commands) and to warn them of the consequence if they choose wrong. The bottom line, though, is that they get to choose. There are no halacha squads coercing people to obey. There are, of course, consequences for following the wrong path and we should strive to do what is right and just, but our actions become meaningful precisely because we get to choose to do them. We are not automatons living out pre-ordained lives. We are people with free will, who have to learn what God wants from us and then try to meet those high standards. Lower animals operate on instinct. We have to decide for ourselves.

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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