“And if you will walk with Me casually and you will not want to listen to Me” Leviticus 26:21


This week’s parashah deals with the blessings and the curses that the Jewish people will receive. While the blessings are pleasant to read, the curses are another story completely.  

It is unfortunate that so many times in the national life of the Jewish people we have experienced these curses — being exiled from our land, experiencing drought and deprivation.

The source of this deprivation comes from the statement ,“If you will walk with me casually”. The phrase is puzzling. What does it mean to walk “casually” and why is this considered to be the source of all our troubles? The whole idea of curses, furthermore seems to contradict our understandings of a benevolent God. If God truly loves His people, why would he want to curse them?

The Chizkuni, a French commentator from the 13th century, explains that the verse means we walk through our lives, seeing everything that happens to us as coincidental. Curses occur if the Jewish people don’t experience God in their lives.  

However, there is a deeper psychological insight here. If everything is coincidental, there can be no meaning that can be made from our lives; everything is haphazard. Our pain and our pleasures serve no purpose. This leaves us in a space of existential angst, and this, as was pointed out by Viktor Frankl, the creator of logotherapy, is one of the main sources of psychological pain.  

Frankl lived through the Holocaust and observed that the survivors were those people who could see purpose in the suffering that they experienced. Those who saw no meaning in their suffering were the ones who perished.

Thus, meaning in life, and purpose is not something which brings about curses from God.  Rather it is a natural consequence of a lack of meaning in life, which brings with it much pain.
May we find the strength to find purpose in all the things that we do and see God’s hand in our lives.

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