After the horrifying admonitions of last week, the Torah comforts us by guaranteeing continuity and restoration of Israel. In fact it is these terrible trials which will influence us to return to Hashem the source of all good. This is the catalyst of our return, as the verse states “when you experience all these matters the blessing and the curse…you will reflect and you will then return to Hashem”.
It is understandable how the curses will induce and pressure us to repent, but why the blessing. How do the blessings arouse us into doing Teshuva?
Catastrophes themselves may cause one to restrain oneself, but that doesn’t constitute Teshuva. Small animals in the face of larger predators, will control themselves from devouring their own prey. Repentance means recognizing that past actions should not be repeated because they take us further from Hashem. This is the meaning of how the blessings are instrumental in Teshuva. It is not by their persuasion to act correctly and reward for good behavior. It is the message they convey, for they indicate the coming closer to the True Good – Hashem.
The Rabbis teach that there is no reward in this world for performance of a good deed. Yet we find the Torah peppered with blessings. In light of the above, we may answer the blessings are not rewards, but indicators that we are on the correct route.
The blessings of our lives should also encourage us to come closer to Hashem.
A man once came to Rabbi Dov Ber (1700 – 1772), the famed Maggid of Mezeritch, with a question. “The Talmud tells us,” asked the man, “that ‘A person is supposed to bless G-d for the bad just as he blesses Him for the good.’ How can a human being possibly react to what he experiences as bad in exactly the same way he responds to what he experiences as good? How can a person be as grateful for his troubles as he is for his joys?”
Rabbi Dov Ber replied: “To answer to your question, you must go see my disciple, Reb Zusha of Anipoli (1718–1800). Only he can help you in this matter.”
Reb Zusha received his guest warmly, and invited him to make himself at home. The visitor after observing Reb Zusha’s conduct realized that he couldn’t think of anyone who suffered more hardship in his life than Reb Zusha: a frightful pauper, there was never enough to eat in Reb Zusha’s home, and his family was beset with all sorts of afflictions and illnesses. Yet Reb Zusha was always good-humored and cheerful, and constantly expressing his gratitude to the Almighty for all His kindness.
So one day, he said to his host: “I wish to ask you something. In fact, this is the purpose of my visit to you–our Rebbe advised me that you can provide me with the answer.”
“What is your question?” asked Reb Zusha.
The visitor repeated what he had asked of the Maggid. “You raise a good point,” said Reb Zusha, after thinking the matter through. “But why did our Rebbe send you to me? How would I know? He should have sent you to someone who has experienced suffering…”
One is not permitted to unstaple attached pieces of paper on Shabbos.