Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Netzavim / Vayelech

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"Lest there be among you a man or woman, family or tribe, whose heart turns away from HaShem your G-d today, to follow and serve the gods of these nations; lest there be among you a root that sprouts poison and gall. And it will be, when he hears the words of this curse, that he will bless himself in his heart, saying, 'I will have peace, for I am ruled by my own heart,' in order to satisfy his thirsts. HaShem will not consent to forgive him, for the anger of HaShem and His jealousy will smoke against that man, and every curse written in this book will lie upon him, and HaShem will blot out his name from under Heaven." [29:17-19]

Usually, the "Lifeline" has a nice, feel-good message. But sometimes, especially before Rosh Hashanah, it's appropriate not to feel too good about ourselves.

My teacher Rabbi Asher Rubenstein called this passage "The most frightening in the entire Torah." What angers the Holy One, Blessed be He, more than anything? "When he hears the words of this curse, that he will bless himself in his heart, saying, 'I will have peace, for I am ruled by my own heart!'" Complacency. Claiming to be just fine, ruled by our own hearts. Having an attitude that permits us to follow our hearts' desires. "HaShem will not consent to forgive him..."

What sin did the person commit? None! He merely decided in his heart to follow his own desires, and ignore his obligations. Instead of engaging in self-criticism and attempting to improve his actions, he decided to do whatever he wanted to do. And that is so contrary to what HaShem desires from us, that this alone causes, as it were, an implacable anger.

We live in a society that is all in favor of "following your heart," rather than "following your conscience." "Seize the moment!" "Live for now!" - and, "Look out for Number One!"

No one should say, "I'm a good Jew," or even, "I'm a good person" - unless always followed by, "but I could be better." Let us recognize our errors, and the vast room for improvement in our behavior. And let us make "New Year's Resolutions" that we intend to keep beyond the Fast of Gedaliah [the third of Tishrei, the third day of the new year.]


Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 

ARTICLES ON NASO:

View Complete List

The Missing 18 Months
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

The Blessing Which Can Never Be Retracted
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Why Are Children Called "Redeemers"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Priestly Blessings: Be Blessed
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Harmonizing Without Homogenizing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Lines of Lineage
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Celebration of Preparation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

Building On The Positive
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Messiah, Can I Keep My Rolls?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

> Message to Manoach and His Wife: Go Beyond The Letter of the Law
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

The Thread that Binds - Faith
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

If not for the Torah . . .
Shlomo Katz - 5772

ArtScroll

Why Did The Younger Brother Get The Better Job?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

How Much Do You Love the Torah?
Shlomo Katz - 5762

Hair-Raising Episode
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

More Precious Than Pearls
Shlomo Katz - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information