Image: An open Torah belonging to Temple Sinai, Oakland, CA. Photo by Susan Krauss.
First fruits, blessings and curses – that’s a quick summary of this week’s Torah portion. It’s timely, coming as it does just before the High Holy Days, when we are asking ourselves:
- What are the “first fruits” of my labor?
- What do I share with the world and my community?
- Which mitzvot do I keep?
- Which mitzvot do I fail to keep?
- What curses do I bring down upon myself and others by my behavior?
That last question isn’t very modern sounding at first blush, but it has modern implications. I do not expect a lightning bolt to strike every person on earth who does wrong. However, most mitzvot have consequences both for keeping them and for failing to keep them:
- If I tell lies, I spread confusion in the world.
- If I injure other people, they hurt.
- If I fail to speak up for the underdog, the world will be a worse place.
- If I do not pay my employees properly, they will go hungry.
- If I use the environment carelessly, the world will be depleted and full of poison.
… and so on.
Mitzvot have consequences.
This week’s divrei Torah:
When We Reach the Place of Promise – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Unintelligible but Meaningful – Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Ki Tavo – Rabbi Seth Goldstein (Podcast)
Creating Our Own Narrative – Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
You’re the Best! – Rabbi Amy Scheinerman
Podcast – Rabbi Eleanor Steinman
Maimonides on Conversion – Rabbi Ruth Adar