Pearls of Rashi – Nitzovim II

In this week’s Parshah, Nitzovim, Hashem tells the Jewish people[1] “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil.” Rashi explains the connection between life and goodness, and death and evil in the following manner. In his comments to this verse he writes that “Each one is dependent upon the other. If you do good, you will be granted life. However, if you do evil, you will receive death. The Torah now proceeds to explain how this is so.”

After explaining what constitutes life and death, good and evil, the Torah warns us that[2] “you shall choose life.”

The Torah is telling us to see that Hashem has set before us good and evil. We are told the consequences are for each. This being the case, why is it necessary for the Torah to then warn us to choose life? If this is something which we can see with our mind’s eye, why does it require a specific commandment from Hashem? After all, who does not wish to live?

One explanation is as follows. We are all commanded to choose to serve Hashem by studying Torah and performing Mitzvos. If we make this choice purely on the basis of intellectual understanding, it is not the service of G-d. We are simply doing what we understand to be best for ourselves.

Our Divine service must be comparable to the service of a slave to his master[3]. We must accept upon ourselves the yoke of our master, Hashem. Therefore, our G-dly service must be based upon following His commandments.

However, before commanding us to choose life, the Torah does tell us to see, to understand the choice we are making. Aside from accepting the yoke of G-d’s kingship, we must also internalize everything which He commands us to do. Therefore, it is important for us to understand and feel the greatness of our Torah observance.

May we all make the correct choices. May Hashem choose to inscribe us for the best year ever in all respects.

I would like to wish everyone a very good Shabbos, and a good, sweet year.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 15, Pages 291-293

Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 30:15.

[2]. Ibid., Verse 19.

[3]. In fact, our relationship to Hashem is not only that of a slave to his master. There are various ways in which we relate to each other. At times our relationship is like that of a child to a parent. At other times it is like that of a wife to her husband.

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