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Not to frighten ourselves

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin 

I don't want to quote all the curses and disastrous prognostications that appear in Bechukotai, the Torah portion we read on Shabbat. There is a long list of diseases, terrors, and persecutions and all of us hope that most of them are already behind us. But there is one curse that should make us pause:

"I will bring fear in their hearts in the lands of their enemies, and the sound of a rustling leaf will pursue them; they will flee as one flees the sword, and they will fall, but there will be no pursuer" (Leviticus 26:36).

Read this well. We are talking about people whom no one is chasing. They hear the sound of a leaf moving in the wind and think they are in danger. They run away and stumble over each other even though their fear is only imaginary. They do not know how to distinguish between a real danger and an imaginary fear. Rashi comments on this as follows: "For they will have fear in their hearts, and every moment they will think that someone is chasing them."

We definitely need to contend with the deeply troubling circumstances and events in the world around us. But all of us need to check that we do not run away from troubles that we ourselves invent, that our hearts are not full of fear that has no basis in reality.

Shavua tov.


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