The World In Balance

September 16, 2022
By Beth Mordecai
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The World In Balance

Parashat Ki Tavo contains a stirring and dramatic scene. The whole nation of Israel is divided between two mountains, half on Mount Eval and half on Mount Grizim. There Moses preaches a set of blessings and curses, a set of instructions by which Israel will prosper or languish. As has been the main theme of the book of Deuteronomy, reward and punishment appear in this week’s parashah as well.

The idea of reward and punishment is based in the notion that as humans, and as Jews, we have free will. Our Torah is given in the form of commandments and with an accompanying sense that while these actions are obligated, we always have the choice whether to observe or not.

The High Holy Day season is based in this idea too. Days of repentance would make no sense if we had no free will in the matter. Yes, we have a lot to live up to and it is up to us choose wisely.

The image of the Israelites divided between to mountain tops reminds me of a Talmudic teaching about our work of Teshuva. The saying goes, that each of us should view the deeds of the whole world as being perfectly balanced on a scale. The amount of positive deeds and negative ones are in equal measure an weight. When we consider our actions we are invited to consider that my next action will tip the scales on way or the other. Either I will add positivity to the world or I will add its opposite.

The parashah teaches that we have the choice. The Talmud teaches that our choice has consequences on the whole world.

Rosh Hashanah is just over a week away. In our waning days of the year I pray that we internalize the notion of choice in receiving blessings and the impact that has on the rest of the world.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Uri Allen

Category : Rabbi's Journal Shabbat