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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Re’eh 47-1


Deuteronomy 11:26 12:10 

You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 12:8-9 ESV

What is the relationship between keeping the commandments and rest?

The stay in the desert was temporary, transitory. There, everyone did as whatever was right in his own eyes. The Torah was given in Sinai, not to be kept in the desert but in the Promised Land. That's why it was impossible to keep many of the commandments in the desert and they had to improvise and do what they could in that transitory situation.

Moshe Rabbenu was preparing the people to step ahead from the forty transitory and preparatory years to a new, totally different situation. This text says that when they were in the desert they had not yet come to the rest and the inheritance. The rest is one thing and the inheritance another. The rest has to do with a state of mind and the inheritance with something physical, the land. Each tribe was to receive a piece of land as inheritance and each family would receive their place for living where they could feel at home and have their souls rest.

Now, since the Torah was written in the first place for the Land of Israel, all the commandments are related to the life of the twelve tribes in it. Without their presence in the Land it's impossible to fulfill the whole Torah, and it's also impossible to achieve complete rest. It's interesting to see the relationship between emotional rest and the fulfillment of the commandments. The lack of commandments creates mental instability which is contrary to rest. They couldn't keep many of the commandments in the desert that's why they didn't rest in their souls. But in the Land they would be able to keep the commandments and thus reach rest.

Anarchy and lack of fixed rules create people with mental and emotional instability. Fixed routines, unchanging rules, clear limits and a well-defined behaviour create a feeling of safety and rest in people's souls. The one who does whatever is right in his own eyes hasn't reached the resting place of the Eternal. Only the one who knows what to do, according to his instruction in the Torah, will have peace in his soul. That's why our Rabbi cites Yirmeyahu, the prophet (Jer. 6:16) and says to those who didn't know how to keep the Torah correctly: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Mat 11:28-30 NIV)

His yoke symbolises submission to his interpretation of the Torah. The one who knows how to keep it correctly will find rest for his soul. The one who breaks or cancels commandments won't find rest for his soul neither in this world nor in the next.

Shavua tov,


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