Thursday, September 6, 2018

Nitzavim - The Easy Road to Hell

Image result for image telling the truth
Mark Twain said, “if you tell the truth you never have to remember anything.”   That is a lesson we find in our parshah this week, a good week to consider such an idea as the High Holy Days approach. 

In the parshah we read:  "For this [Torah] which I am commanding you today is not hidden from you; it is not far away. It is not in Heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go to Heaven and get it for us, so that we might hear it and do it?' For this matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it." (Deuteronomy 30:11-12, 14)

Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav: "Only the path to Gehinnom (hell) is difficult and bitter. I see people spending restless days and sleepless nights plotting how to go about sinning, and afterwards they suffer with regrets and anxiety, which continue for the rest of their lives. But the way to the Garden of Eden is an easy one, short and pleasant for those who walk it."

Sometimes we make our lives too difficult. We devote time and energy trying to avoid doing the right thing, making excuses for bad acts, compromising principles, rationalizing our way out of truth, justice and righteousness – and then suffering with all the ill-effects our actions or inaction bring on. 

Rebbe Nachman teaches that a life of Torah, one of observance, but more importantly of honesty, righteousness, no regrets, no lies, and no guilt will be, in the long run, easier, when it comes to living with integrity and contentment.  It is, according to him, “easier” to be a mensch (a decent person) than it is to be a rasha (an evildoer).  As is said about the Torah, the Tree of Life - "its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace." (Proverbs 3:17)