Posted by: reuvenflamer | September 8, 2009

Parshas Ki Savo Part 1 – The G-d of Joy

Two weeks prior to Rosh Hashana we read this week’s Torah parshas Ki Tavo: “when you come into the land.” The parsha begins with the Mitzvah of offering the first fruits of one’s field (thank G-d for all your blessings) which includes in it a list of “curses and evil predictions,” and comes to a final conclusion with the promise for success when living according to the covenant and the urging to live up to it. Ki Tavo also is read in approximately the birthday anniversary of the Baal Shem Tov – the founder of the general teachings of Chassidus – and the Alter Rebbe – the founder of Chabad Chassidus, and author of the Tanya.

Why do you think that curses are promised to rain on the Jewish nation? Naturally, you would expect the Torah to give the reason for “The Divine Curse” as the just reward for various evil deeds. After all, the Jewish G-d is a vengeful one, isn’t He? Isn’t that what motivates religious behavior in the first place (the “run for the fox hole” syndrome in war and catastrophe)?

However, the stated surprising reason sits smack in the middle of inventory list: “for you have not served Hashem (G-d) with joy (simcha) and a good heart (tuv levav)!

Be joyless and live without many blessings. Unhappiness breeds curses!

A new take on the jealous G-d of Israel!


When do you feel the happiest? Does a five-star meal do it for you? Do you cheer when the home team wins (Go Yankees?)? Do you feel on top of your game when a financial windfall comes your way? Is joy falling in love?

The deeper picture on simcha is captured through Torah terminology: simchas ha nefesh – “joy of the soul.”

“A good meal please – I am hungry”. And if I am going to eat a meal, make it taste good at least! Afterwards, there is the physical satisfaction of satiety and the pleasure of a good memory! This is called simchas haguf – body joy. And no one denies that the body can have fun and give “what to live for.” For a while.

A step up on the ladder of joy is the pleasure one has at the performance of a world-class symphony. Music brings joy – different than the culinary delight of a first rate meal. A good song lifts the heart.

Climbing higher, there is the joy of an inspiring new insight. Discovery through learning can bring the greatest of joys. The scholar lives for the mind and in the mind. A new idea, a deep insight, lights up the face! This is the inner joy of the mind.

A rung or two higher is the joy of purpose. Discovering your “raison d’etre” – the reason why you are here – truly energizes. When you know exactly who you are, what you are here for, and (therefore) what you must do here, nothing will deter you. “Simcha breaks boundaries.” A man on his mission is unstoppable. And happy. The joy of being.

An even subtler level is the joy of choice. Making a conscious choice (and not out of habit) can be incredibly energizing. This is the joy of freedom. Breaking the physical limits of mind and body is invigorating. Choosing to confront a life challenge is a great joy! The joy of power!Parshas


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