The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: Av 25, 5768/August 26, 2008

"See, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse."
(Deuteronomy 11:26)

Look, behold, see! These words relentlessly crop up all throughout the book of Deuteronomy, and especially so throughout this week's reading of Re'eh - See! This eye-opening imperative which begins the reading of Re'eh is followed by: "the blessing: that you hearken to the commandments of HaShem your G-d, that I command you today; and the curse: if you do not hearken to the commandments of HaShem your G-d, but turn aside from the path which I command you today, to go after other gods, that you did not know." (Deuteronomy 11:27-28)

The presentation of both a blessing and a curse implies choice on the part of the children of Israel, and the imperative "See!" establishes a direct connection between vision and the ability to make such choice. In order to choose we need first to distinguish, and in order to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, exile and redemption, embracing G-d's command or shying away from His word, we must necessarily see clearly and behold the reality that lays before us.

Free will and the ability to make choices, we know, is what separates man from the rest of G-d's creation, and, indeed, what separates us from G-d Himself. For what choice could possibly lay before the Blessed All Knowing One, Whose will infuses all existence? And we, who are created in His image, and commanded to be holy for He is holy, how are we to know what choices to make? How are we to acquire the gift of choosing correctly from the All Knowing G-d?

Yet we are told that G-d has made choices: He chose the children of Israel as His people, He chose the land of Israel for His people, and in the reading of Re'eh, we are told "then it shall come to pass that the place which HaShem your G-d shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, there you will bring all that I command you: your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow unto HaShem." (ibid 12:11)

This third choice refers, of course to G-d's chosen house - the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. So G-d has, in fact, made three distinct choices: His people, His land, and the place of the dwelling of His presence on this earth. All three of these Divine choices share a common element: the actualization, the fulfillment, of all three are contingent upon our making the very same choices. We must choose to accept upon ourselves the role of peoplehood that G-d has chosen for us. We must choose to accept the imperative of living in the land of Israel that G-d has chosen for us. And we must choose to honor with our presence the very spot on earth that G-d has chosen as the place in which His name will dwell. To choose to accept upon ourselves any of these three G-dly choices, we must necessarily choose to honor and to embrace and to fulfill all three. To choose but one or two is to choose none at all, for the fulfillment of each one is contingent upon the fulfillment of the other two.

So, in fact, G-d is teaching us, and showing us, and guiding us to make the right choices to assume our destiny and to enable the fulfillment of His will on earth. Bringing the choices to fruition requires absolute dedication to G-d and devotion to the task, but making the choices should be easy. After all, these are the choices that G-d Himself has made: His people, His land, and His place on earth from which to reach out to all humanity. We need but to open our eyes and see fully all of G-d's goodness that is ours to inherit the moment we choose to make His will our choice: "See... the blessing, if you shall hearken unto the commandments of HaShem your G-d..." (ibid 11:27)

Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven see the blessing and the curse, discuss the centrality of the land of Israel in G-d's plans for His people, the need to make a daily growing Jewish presence on the Temple Mount central to our plans, and, of course, the latest progress toward the completion of the Brass Laver for the washing of the hand and feet of the priests before performing their duties in G-d's Chosen House.

Click to hear:

Part 1
Part 2