“And it shall be if you listen to the voice of HASHEM, your G-d, to keep and to perform all of His commandments that I command you this day… Blessed are you in your coming and blessed shall you be in your going.” — Devarim 28:1–6
The destiny of the Jewish people
In this moving address, Moshe Rabbeinu once again defines the path of the Jewish people. “If you will listen to the ways of the Torah, all the blessings will come to you…”
The Targum defines “if you will listen,” as “if you will accept,” meaning, if you accept the word of HASHEM to guard his mitzvos and do them, then everything else will follow. You will blessed in the city and blessed in the field. You will have children, livestock, healthy crops, and abundance. And finally, “You will be blessed in your coming and your going.” Rashi explains this last phrase to mean that you will leave the world as clean of sin as you were when you came into the world.
This Rashi is difficult to understand. A man who leaves this earth as clean of sin as when he entered is a complete tzaddik — a level that is difficult to even envision. How can Rashi say that all we need to do in order to reach that lofty level is to fully accept HASHEM’s mitzvos?
The answer to this can best be understood with a mashal.
A change in perspective
Imagine we take a man from the sixteenth century and bring him into our world — into your living room on the day that you are moving. He watches as a team of men moves the contents of your house into a truck parked in the driveway. First he sees them carry out the heavy furniture: the dressers, the beds, the dining room table, and the breakfront. Next come boxes and boxes of clothing and dishes, pots and pans, toys and books.
He stands watching, his mouth agape. In his life he hasn’t seen this much abundance, certainly not as the possessions of one family. After the whole house is emptied out, the movers enter the truck, and one gets behind the wheel. At that point, the man can no longer contain himself. “How do you intend to move this huge wagon with everything in it?” he cries out. “It will take a team of four, maybe six horses!”
Likely, you would find great difficulty in explaining to him that one man, by pressing his foot on the accelerator, will harness the power of the engine with a power output of hundreds of horses. In his world, he has never seen anything like this, and he has no basis for comparison.
Upper world systems
This seems to be the answer to our question.
HASHEM created the physical world with systems and laws governing them. So, too, He created the spiritual world with rules and procedures that control it. And as in the physical world, there are powerful engines that can accomplish what hundreds of men can’t. In the spiritual world, there are techniques and structures that can achieve astonishing results.
The Targum is revealing to us one of the powerful systems of the upper worlds. When a person resolves with all of his heart and soul to serve HASHEM, he puts into operation powerful forces that catapult him forward toward the completion of that acceptance. These forces now drive him toward spiritual perfection. He can veer off and he can resist the pull, but that force has been put into place, and assuming that he doesn’t negate it, he will be pulled to reach that lofty level. If he allows these influences to do what they have been created to do, he will reach dizzying heights, leaving this earth without sin.
This concept is very applicable, as we often find ourselves looking at the levels of greatness outlined in the Torah and wonder how we can even aspire to reach such heights. This Rashi teaches us that all we need to do is start the process. Our job is to completely and totally accept the mitzvos before and beyond everything else. When we do so, HASHEM helps, and powerful forces propel us on a path toward perfection.
This is an excerpt from the Shmuz on the Parsha book.