Elul Reflections: 21 Elul 5777

Choosing a Life of Blessing

Throughout the book of Devarim, read throughout this month of Elul in the lead up to Rosh HaShanah we hear continuous exhortation from Moses to choose a life of blessing. But what does it mean to choose “the blessing” instead of “the curse”? In Devarim Rabbah, a homiletical midrash to the book of Deuteronomy, our sages offer the following parable:

Rabbi Simeon ben Halafta said: This may be compared to two men. One lived in the North and owned a vineyard in the South. And the other lived in the South and owned a vineyard in the North. Every day, each man used to travel a great distance to tend to his own vineyard. But one day, they met and one proposed to the other, “Instead of your coming here, why don’t you guard my vineyard in your neighbourhood, and I will guard yours in mine.” (Devarim Rabbah IV:4).

According to this midrash, one way in which we choose a life of blessing is by understanding how we are responsible for one another, and how we care for each other’s needs with integrity and true dedication.

As we draw closer to the Yamim Nora’im, let us remember that our actions have direct consequences that greatly affect other people and the world around us. While this month and season necessitates personal reflection, to choose a life of blessing requires us to consider not just ourselves but our relationships with others. When we heal our relationships and care for others, we choose a life of blessing.

--Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins

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