Re’eh: Being and living the Jewish identity (II)

“The blessing, if you shall hearken to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day.” (Deuteronomy 11:27)

We have mentioned often that human consciousness functions according to opposites in order to exercise free will. We also said that evil exists not as a choice but as a reference to choose goodness. This is the simple premise to fully assimilate the also simple encompassing message of the Torah and Judaism, which is to make goodness prevail in all aspects, dimensions and expressions of life.

God’s commandments for the Jews to hearken and observe, all have the purpose of helping us fulfill and achieve that message. This teaches us that every commandment has a particular aspect that contributes to elevate the human condition to a higher level of existence close to our Creator.

All of these commandments are clearly stated in regards to how we relate with our fellow human being, and most of the rest are hard to assimilate in regards to our relationship with God. The difficulty with the latter is understandable, considering that our Creator is unfathomable, hence we are commanded to fulfill them because He says so.

In this awareness we realize that in the verse quoted above, Moses teaches us that all God wants us to do is for the sake of the goodness He wants us to have, which Moses calls the blessing.

Furthermore, our most important spiritual leader wants us to be completely aware that goodness indeed is our essence and true identity by which we are divinely commanded to live as God’s purpose for His creation.

Once this is assimilated by all aspects of our consciousness, anything other than goodness, the blessing, would be the reference for us to remain always close to goodness. Yet, human consciousness has the natural tendency to live life in every possible way in order to learn by experience. This defines us as the empiricists that must be burned by fire in order not to play with it.

In this regard the children of Israel, as the Creator pointed out in His Torah, are the most “stiff naked” people. This trait has a two-fold aspect, as most of the choices we have to make every moment.

One is to irrationally oppose goodness, and the other to rationally embrace it. This is why we study Torah as much as we can to penetrate as much as possible the ethical qualities inherent in goodness, so we may fully assimilate God’s ways and attributes as the references that we as Jews are commanded to emulate.

In regards to the irrational opposition to goodness, we see it in people whose religious beliefs or ideologies lead them to act senselessly against what is good and positive for the human condition. They do practically anything to inflict evil and negativity to make life miserable in every way. This ignorant mindset is what Moses refers as the curse.

“And the curse, if you shall not hearken to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods that you have not known.” (11:28)

We have said that false gods and idols are negative traits and trends that turn us into what they are. Anger, arrogance, envy, coveting, lust, indifference and indolence are seven of them. If we feed them in our consciousness, they become the rulers of our thoughts, emotions, feelings and instincts to which we serve when we act as such idols.

King David often warns us against them.

“Those who make them will be like them; yes, everyone who trusts in them.” (Psalms 115:8, 135:18)

In this context, as we pointed out above, the curse is what we make believe for ourselves out of ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions. Once we fabricate beliefs or feelings of lack, either real or imaginary, we carry their potential negative trends that turn life into anything far from goodness.

Thus we realize that in goodness there is no lack, as in all of God’s blessings for us; and in evil there is always lack as the curse goodness commands us to see only as the reference to choose the blessing.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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