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LOOKING FOR G-D IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES

by Rabbi Shmuel Weiss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

There is so much to comment upon in this week's Torah portion: Moses' poignant plea to Hashem to enter Israel; the Ten Commandments, the shema. But, instead, let's say a word about this week's Haftorah. Haftorot never seem to get enough "air-time."

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There is so much to comment upon in this week's Torah portion: Moses' poignant plea to Hashem to enter Israel; the Ten Commandments, the shema. But, instead, let's say a word about this week's Haftorah. Haftorot never seem to get enough "air-time."

"Nachamu, nachamu - Comfort, comfort my people," says Isaiah. Twice he is commanded to comfort us. Why twice? The simple explanation, of course, is that it represents the two times the Temple was destroyed.

But the prophet hints at another reason for repeating the word. He says Jerusalem has received "double payment for her sins." Why double? This refers back to the Haftorah that we read two weeks ago. There, Jeremiah says Hashem regarded us as having committed two sins: "Me they rejected, the source of flowing waters; and at the same time they have hewn broken wells and cisterns that can hold no water at all." In other words, not only did the Jewish people refuse to drink of the sweet, pure waters of Torah, they dug wells in places where no water was to be found. Why did this so anger Hashem?

Had the Jewish people been incapable of taking a spiritual discipline upon themselves, had we been simply lazy or inadequate, that would have been bad enough. But when we demonstrated that we were indeed desirous of following a god, and fully capable of observing a set of laws - just not Hashem and His laws - that was what really added insult to injury.

Unfortunately, the syndrome is familiar to us. We have great difficulty getting up early for prayer services, but no problem rising at the crack of dawn to go on vacation, play golf, jog, etc. We complain we have no money for charity, but manage to find the funds when it comes to our own entertainment. We say we have no time for studying the Torah, but find plenty of time for all kinds of other diversions.

Potential and capability are double-edged swords; they are the fuel that allow us to excel, but they also make us culpable when we fail to try our best, settling instead for spiritual mediocrity.

The antidote to this malady, whispers nachamu, nachamu, is to be proficient in both worlds: Jog, but also pray. Enjoy life, but also study Torah. Give for your own needs, but don't neglect others. Hashem expects no less than the best from us in all our many paths, and waits in all those places for us to arrive.

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Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Rana'ana, Israel.

You are invited to read more Parshiot Vaetchanan articles.

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