Reeh – Pathfinding

26 Observe: I have given to you today blessing and curse. 27 The blessing when you will pay attention to the commandments of YHWH your God—that I have commanded you today. 28 And the curse if you do not pay attention to the commandments of YHWH your God and you turn away from the path that I have commanded you today–to follow gods that you have not known.

Deuteronomy 11

Oddly, we seem to have parted company here, for no one lives a Biblical life. Either we are detached from it because so much time has passed since the destruction of the Mikdash (the temple where the ancient sacrifices were performed (or we have just evolved into a different sphere and trod our own path to the Biblical laws in each and every generation.

Roads diverge in a yellow wood

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. [1]

1 Everything that I have commanded you be careful to do, neither add to it nor reduce it.

Deuteronomy 13

Do we feel a connection to those specific laws or is the path that we travel an alternative to the one described in the Bible? Are any yet to be discovered paths still waiting for us up ahead? Are there any other hidden paths that can no longer be chosen?

33 Instruct me YHWH in your way of law so I can fully follow. 34 Bring me to understand so I can follow you teaching and keep it wholeheartedly. 35 Guide me in the path of your commandments since that is what I desire.

Psalm 119

Who walks anymore? Don’t we all drive or fly off in all directions leaving those paths behind as “memory lanes”? Paths are for the very young or the very old or the robust hikers to explore. When we come upon then in our daily lives we might be too busy to consider them at all.

Blessing and Curse

Still we have to confront the ominous aspect of this pathfinding …the blessing and the curse. Does it scare us to be wary of every step that could actually be a misstep? Will this paralyze us and prevent us from making our own way into the world as modern Jews?

We’ve felt the terrible tremors throughout the ages as we came face those fatal missteps since Dothan and Amiram or Nadav and Avihu went astray. But do we conceive of a connection to cosmic forces that depends on our obedience and humility?  

1 Song of ascending: I raise my eyes to the mountains, where will my help come from? 2 My help comes from YHWH—creator of the heavens and the earth. 3 Your foot will not stray; your guardian will not slumber.

Psalm 121

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

Psalm 121 Shir Hamaalot – Mush Ben Ari with Avraham Tal and Benayah Barbi

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