2 Minutes of Torah Study — Re’eh

This week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, offers us a choice – blessings if we follow God’s rules, or curses if we don’t. It is up to us to choose and then to accept the consequences that follow. Our behavior, ultimately, our choice, will indicate whether God rewards or punishes us.

Simple, right? We act and God responds. But the idea that we choose between blessings and curses has sparked much debate about our free will to make that decision. Can it really be that God who knows and foresees all, allows us to determine our future?

Our commentators say yes – as it is written in Pirke Avot 3:15: ‘everything is foreseen, and freewill is given.’Maimonides explains by teaching that ‘although God knows all human actions, no one is compelled…to do any particular action amongst all actions; rather, each person decides what they will do.’ In other words, it ispossible for God to both know the future and to allow it to unfold based on how we choose. Blessing or curse, it’s up to us.

The responsibility of choosing well is highlighted this Shabbat as we begin the month of Elul. This is the month leading up to the High Holidays, traditionally the time when we reflect on the past year. We think about how the choices we made impacted us. And we look ahead to the New Year and hope we choose well, that our actions bring blessing into our lives.

Re’eh Anochi notein lifneichem hayom bracha u’klala…Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse….The choice is ours.