The Greatest Blessing of AllAugust 22, 2022 - 12:00 am
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; — Deuteronomy 11:26-27
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Re’eh, which means “see,” from Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17.
When I was very young, maybe in first or second grade, there was a big chart on the wall of our classroom listing the names of all the students. Next to the names, we would get a star for each time we did our homework. We would get prizes, usually stickers, based on the number of stars we would have by the end of each month.
It seems silly now when I think about it, but basically, the teacher was bribing us to learn. Of course, I know now that the real reward for learning isn’t stickers or prizes, but as a child I didn’t understand that.
The truth is that adults are not much different. God promises us blessings for following Him, and too often we focus on those rewards. But the real reason to live according to God’s will is that it’s the right way to live. And that is the greatest blessing of all!
The Greatest Blessing of All
We see this lesson in the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion when we read, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.”
In the second half of this verse the word used for “if” is asher. But asher is not the usual Hebrew word for “if.” In fact, even though asher sometimes means “if,” most of the time it means “when” or “that.” In other words, the verse can be read “the blessing if you obey,” or “the blessing that you obey.”
Based on these two ways of translating asher, the Jewish sages explained that the verse is speaking to us on two levels. First, it’s true that God will reward us and bless us for obeying His commands.
But we must also realize that the real blessing for obeying God’s is the fact that we are able to do so. As the rabbis put it in the Mishna, “The reward for a good deed, is the good deed itself.” And that’s the greatest blessing of all!
Your turn: Thank God today for giving you the privilege of living according to His will.