Re’eh 5772 — A day at a time

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Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.  …Deuteronomy 11:26

The Ben Ish Chai (chief rabbi in Baghdad during the mid-19th century) says that we should not read this verse as if it is saying God is setting both blessings and curses in front of us today.  What the heck, some days we get blessings, some days we get curses, we don’t usually get to choose.

Instead, he says we should read the verse as “I set before you today.”  Today, not yesterday, not tomorrow.  All you have is today.  

If you have blessings today — keep in mind that it’s just today that they are set in front of you.  Don’t get too full of yourself, thinking it will last forever, or that you did it all yourself.  Have a little humility.  It could all be taken from you tomorrow.  You could get hit by truck.  Lots of things can happen.

If you have curses today — in essence, the same message.  That’s what you have today. You’ll get through today, and tomorrow your fortunes could change completely.  You could be healed, get that job, marry that woman.  Don’t worry about the troubles that have not yet befallen you, what you have to deal with today is bad enough.

We often think that the teaching to live in the “here and now” is a Buddhist teaching.  And it is — you can find Buddhist sources that talk about the same thing.  But the Jewish tradition has the same wisdom.  Take life a day at a time.  Don’t miss out on today because you’re worried about tomorrow. Carpe diem.

Reb Barry

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