You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today. Deuteronomy 11:31-32
The Torah portion for this week is Re'eh, which means "see," from Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 54:11-55:5.
The two most powerful questions a person can ask him or herself are the following: "Would I still be the same person I am today if I lost all that I have tomorrow?" And, "Would I still be the same person I am today if all of my dreams came true tomorrow?"
One of the greatest tests in life is how people behave when they have nothing. Are they bitter? Do they lose faith in God? Are they unkind and unpleasant to be around? On the flip side, another great test in life is how people act when they have everything. Are they arrogant? Do they forget God? Are they stingy or generous with what God has given them?
In this week's Torah portion we read: "You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today." The Israelites were about to fulfill their collective dream - to enter their promised land as free people, where God promised they would flourish.
It's notable that the verse ends with the word "today." The verse would have made just as much sense without that word. It's as though Scripture was stressing that while the people were full of faith and obedience on that particular day, things could quite possibly change in the future. Moses emphasized that while their circumstances were about to change, the people needed to remain the same as they were on that very day - full of trust and dedication to God.
Once the people entered the land, life would be different. At times, life would be full of blessing. There would be peace and prosperity. As Scripture already warned a few chapters earlier, the people could easily forget God during those good times.
At other times, things might be very difficult. The people were used to being sustained by the hand of God. They didn't have to work for their sustenance and could spend their days in harmony learning God's Word. Now, they would face wars and the difficulties of settling the land. Would they turn away from God when life got hard?
Today, let's declare that no matter where life takes us, we will remain firmly planted in faith and obedient to God. We may not get to choose the circumstances in our life, but we can always choose our disposition. Let's resolve to act with faith, integrity, and kindness in any situation, just as we would today.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President