Ground Zero

September 3, 2021
Elul 26, 5781
Candlelighting Time 7:09 PM

            This week’s parsha is loaded with motivational proposals to persuade us to make the correct decision in life. If we choose the path of Torah and mitzvos, then we have selected the course of success. If, however, we veer away from our rich legacy of Torah and mitzvos, then we will suffer consequences that are dire and ominous. Even though that warning should have been sufficient to convince us to elect for the appropriate direction in life, still our yetzer hora, evil inclination, is hard at work valiantly trying to suppress our desire to adhere to the Torah and perform mitzvos. Therefore, the parsha ends with an incredible parallel that is intended to really shake us up and respond accordingly.

            Moshe cautions the nation that if we deviate from observance of Torah and mitzvos then, we have degraded ourselves to even a lower level then the heavens and the earth. The land produces a harvest every year and doesn’t digress from its purpose even though when it does perform it is not rewarded. So, we who can earn renumeration for obeying the Torah certainly it would behoove us to do so. The entire creation bends to fulfill the will of Hashem, should be we doing anything less than that? Of course not, so therefore we are impelled to follow the example of the world and respect Hashem’s will!

            The commentators question this analogy of Moshe that it is incongruous. After all, the world doesn’t have its own free will to exercise what it wants to do, it is compelled by its very design to ‘heed’ the laws of nature as ordained by Hashem from the very beginning. However, we have free will and within that struggle, we sometimes fall prey to our rather carnal desires. So how is this rebuke of Moshe befitting to state to the people?

            The sefer Ohr HaChama explains that since indeed the creation at large was brought into existence to aid us in our service to Hashem, if we disobey the Torah and assume an insubordinate role, we will not deserve to receive our bounty from the earth as planned and rather it could remain apathetic and not serve us! However, that will not occur although theoretically it could happen. And that is the point that Moshe intended to emphasize that we should realize that it is not a free ride, and we are only technically eligible if we need the aid of the creation to assist us when we observe the Torah.

            This is a powerful message that we should assimilate before Rosh Hashanah. The seriousness of our theme of life in utilizing our resources is at stake this time of the year. Although the earth may not cease to produce but perhaps its bounty will be minimized in order to drive home a point to our nation. And even if the earth does yield a wonderful crop there is the possibility that it will for some reason rot and not reach our tables at home. We only need to view the horrific conditions in Afghanistan for a moment to realize that their reality could be our disaster in a moment’s notice if Hashem would indeed reprimand us for our lackadaisical attitude in serving Him.

            As we close out another year that was chockful with tragedies and calamities, we hope and pray that Hashem in His ultimate kindness will only bestow upon us His blessings of peace, prosperity, good health and we should merit the coming of the Moshiach speedily and in our time. However, we may need to uphold a standard of living that justifies that endorsement.


One should not feel that Moshiach can’t come because our performance of mitzvos is perhaps sub-standard. We are unable to understand the thoughts of Hashem and when the time is ripe for our redemption, we will merit that event.                                                                            CHOFETZ CHAIM