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Friday, September 23

The Weekly Shtikle - Nitzavim / Vayeilech

The central theme in this week's parsha, not in the least bit coincidentally, is theme of teshuvah, repentance. After the pesukim dealing with the harsh punishments of the man, woman, family or tribe who "goes his own way," we are told of all the good that is bestowed upon us when we return to HaShem.

Perek 30 begins, "And it sall be when these things come upon you, the blessings and the curses which I have put before you...And you shall return to HaShem, your God." It is common, especially at this time, to look back and reflect on recent tragedies - those that affect us personally or as a nation more directly, such as the passing of a loved one or the trials and tribulations endured by our bretheren in Eretz Yisroel, and those that might seem to affect us less directly, such as various world events - and try to understand it as HaShem's call for us to do teshuvah. It is certainly not uncommon for such events to be invoked in a Rosh HaShanah or Shabbas Shuva drasha. However, there is a small yet important nuance in this week's parsha that might easily be overlooked in this process. It is not merely the curses, the tragedies and misfortunes, that are meant to be catalysts to our repentance. The berachah, the blessings and the good fortune are meant to serve the same purpose. It is simply insufficient to look back at the tough times that befell us, either personally or nationally, and declare "God was telling us something." We must also reflect upon the wonderful blessings we have enjoyed, for He was telling us something then too. Appreciating the love and the Divine Providence with which our lives are governed, can and should lead us to teshuvah just the same.

Have a good Shabbos and a kesivah vachasimah tovah.

Eliezer Bulka

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