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Highlighting the Bad to Emphasize the Good!

01/02/2020 03:47:56 PM


Rabbi Mordechai Bookbinder


This week’s Torah portion, Ki Savo, is referred to as “the k’lalahs” – the curses! The prophecies mentioned are uniquely foreboding in their nature for those who take the time to read through the parsha.

Interesting traditions have sprung up given the gloominess of the reading. Many people avoid receiving aliyahs, as they don’t want to be “cursed”. Typically, no one is actively called up for the 6th aliyah (which contains all the misfortunes). Rather, one of the gabboim (assistants) standing on the side of the Torah simply walks around, and does the blessings over the reading, taking the Aliyah for himself without any name being called out. As well, the ba’al koreh (the Torah reader) starts reading very quickly and quietly, indicating that we wish to get through this section as fast as possible.

The reason for such terrible punishments is equally surprising – not because we have killed; not because we have sinned a great sin; and not even because we haven’t renewed our membership in a timely fashion (oops.. did I say that out loud??). Rather, the Torah tells us “...because you did not serve HaShem your G-D with joy and a full heart when every- thing was abundant.” That is, because we did not appreciate what we had when we had it!!

Too often, times are good, but we don’t recognize it. We become so used to “good times” that we become numb and develop a sense of entitlement. If we don’t shake that sense of privilege from ourselves, than the Torah tells us that it will be done for us in the most drastic of ways.

If one lives a life of appreciation, where everything is seen an a “gift” rather than a “due”, then one’s life is filled with happi- ness and joy. The day-to-day miracles of our Creator become all the more obvious in our daily lives and we can merit to avoid the curses of this week’s parsha. This is also the clarion call for us to reorient our lives for the upcoming year. Let us emphasize, and recognize, the goodness that we are fortu- nate to have. Let us be more appreciative of others, and in turn, they will come to appreciate us.

Wishing you all a Shana Tova, and a year of health and happiness

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784