Blog Post

Is not sinning sufficient?

Dear Friends

In this weeks Torah reading, Moses continues to recount the trials and tribulations encountered by the Jews during their forty year desert odyssey. Moses recalls “Your eyes have seen what the Lord did” after the Midianite Women seduced, and lured Jews into idol worship, “For every man who went after the idols” recalls Moses, is no longer here. But, says Moses “You who cleave to the Lord your G-D are alive, all of you, this day.

If Moses is trying to drive home a message that engaging in sin usually ends badly, he could have continued his thought by simply stating “But you who haven’t sinned are alive all of you this day,” but instead Moses informs his audience that they are still alive while their counterparts are not, because “You who cleave to the Lord are alive.”

The Hebrew word for “You,” is “Atem,” spelled with the letters Aleph, Tav and Mem. These very same three letters, when rearranged in a different order, also spell the word “Emet” which means truth.

Moses is teaching his audience at the “Desert speech series” as well as me and you, a fundamental principle. Not sinning doesn’t cut it , it’s not about what you are not doing that makes you “alive this day,” it’s what you are doing that determines whether you will truly live or not. Moses chose the word “Atem” – you (who cleave to the Lord), which is interchangeable with “Emet” – truth, to teach us, that if we seek to have a real relationship with G-D, (“cleave to the Lord”) we must be “Atem,” truthful and honest, with ourselves and with G-D.

Detoxifying our body and soul of the spiritual and physical poison we have invited in, to the point where we can say “we are not sinning” is only the beginning of the rest of our life. We must then get truthful and brutally honest with ourselves and with G-D to the point where we can be called  “Atem” real and true. Only then can we move on and seek to have a real relationship with G-D “cleave to the Lord.” which Moses assures us will result in us being “alive, all of you this day,” prepared and ready to enter the promised land, both spiritually and physically.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Meir Kessler