“And this shall be the reward when you hearken to My commandments and you observe and perform them…”
This week’s Torah reading opens with a promise from God that obedience to His instructions brings a reward: “Hashem your God will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you, and He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land….you will be the most blessed of all the peoples…” I encourage you to read the entire portion for yourself sometime over the weekend.
It is noteworthy that the blessings promised in this passage are to be realized in this life. That is not to say that Judaism ignores the Life to Come – not at all. In fact, it is written in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that we should regard this world as the corridor to the World to Come and keep in mind that how we live in this world determines our place in Olam Haba (the World to Come).
However, Hashem is also deeply involved in our daily life here on this earth and extends blessings to be realized here in response to our obedience to His mitzvot. There is another saying in Pirkei Avot that comes to mind in this context: “Where there is no flour, there is no Torah.” This was the quaint way of saying that it is important to care not only about our needs but the needs of those around us because when someone is hungry, they are not inclined to study Hashem’s Torah. Their mind is on their pressing need for nourishment. By way of deducation, this also serves to remind us that eating is not just for our own pleasure. We eat in order to live that we might serve God. The primary reason for taking care of our health is not to avoid disease. That’s a secondary reason. The primary reason to be healthy is to have the strength and vitality to serve God.
A little further on in our reading, Hashem connects our obedience to Him to a corresponding abundance of rain on the Land. Historically, drought has very often been referred to as a “curse” or a “punishment”, a lack of God’s blessing on a country. Abundance of rain, on the other hand, is a blessing from on high for the fruit of rain is abundant crops to feed the population.
An additional verse of great importance in this week’s reading is this one: “a Land that Hashem your God seeks out; the eyes of Hashem, your God, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to its end.” 11:12
We know from Torah study that whenever in the text we read the phrase ‘the eyes of Hashem’, it is a metaphor for Divine Providence and protection. Hashem chose this Land to give to His people. One of the psalms relates that He chose Zion for His own habitation. It is from this Land that the Messiah will rule the nations in the days of the restored Kingdom of God on this earth. (May His kingdom come soon!)
Such a small country yet its importance exceeds all expectations. Did you know that there is a larger press corps in Jerusalem than in any other capital city of the world? The world’s eyes are fixed on Israel. All that happens here impacts the entire world, whether or not the nations realize it. But the most important thing to us who live here is that the eyes of Hashem are always upon this Land. It is an inestimable privilege to reside in Israel!
To those of my readers who do not (yet) live here, may I encourage you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we are enjoined to do in the psalms. When you do, it is not just Israel that reaps the benefit of your prayers; your country of residence does as well. For Hashem has promised that the nations and individuals that bless Israel will be blessed; those that curse her will be cursed.(Gen. 12:3) It’s as simple as that.
Europe is passing through very difficult times at present. So is America and other nations around the world. I talk with people from other countries who feel despondent, discouraged and depressed.
“What can we do?” they lament. “It’s all in the hands of the politicians. We have no say.”
One person CAN make a difference. History has proven that over and over again. YOU and I have at least one key to opening the pathway of blessing – pray for the peace of Jerusalem. If you don’t think your prayers for Israel in the privacy of your home will make a difference to your own city and country, think again! They will. Prayer is far more powerful than most of us appreciate.
In Tune with Torah this week = renew your faith in the power of prayer. Approach God with a revived trust and confidence in His everlasting kindness. Pray for Israel; pray for your own country; pray for your family and EXPECT to see the fruit of your prayers. You will – because HE who rules in the heavens is everlastingly faithful!