Moshe continues his discourse guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success, lest we forget and ignore God.
Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness — “Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to possess this land … but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you” (Deut. 9:5). He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments during the sin of the Golden Calf.)
This week’s portion dispels a common misconception. People think that “Man does not live by bread alone” means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, “Man does not live by bread alone … but by all that comes out of God’s mouth” (Deut. 8:3).
The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does God want of you? “Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God’s commandments and decrees … so that all good will be yours” (Deut. 10:12).
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based on Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.
The Torah states:
“It shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances and keep and do them, that God will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers” (Deut. 7:12).
The Midrash teaches that whenever the Torah uses the phrase “vehaya,” “It shall be,” it refers to simcha, a joyful occurrence. On the other hand, when the Torah writes “vayehi beyimay,” “It was in the days,” it refers to an unhappy theme.
It is a fact that happy people are future-oriented. Sad people are past-oriented. Friday night with the start of Shabbat marks the close of the previous workweek, with all its anguish and disappointments. Shabbat is a day of meditation and renewal. It is not merely a day of rest to “recharge one’s batteries” for the next workweek. Rather, it is a day where Torah study, prayer, family unity and introspection should elevate one spiritually, so that the next week that follows can be one of spiritual advancement.
Just as it is difficult to walk and take great strides with a heavy burden on one’s back, so it is difficult to advance spiritually carrying a heavy burden of the past. True, we may have made mistakes. We should learn from these to not repeat them and to avoid the things that are conducive to errant behavior. Wherever possible, we should make amends for any harm we may have caused. These are the components of teshuvah (correcting our deeds) and Torah literature states that Shabbat is particularly propitious for teshuvah. However, once we have done proper teshuvah, we should let go of the past and not allow it to hinder us in the future.
Correct mistakes, resolve not to repeat them, and that be the end of it. “It shall be” is looking to what we