A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas Ki Savo. This is an incredible parsha as we receive the potential of many wonderful brochos (blessings), and also quite heavy, seeing as we also receive the potential of wretched klolos (curses).
The crux of the whole issue of receiving brochos or klolos sits on one posuk: “תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה’ אל-היך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל.” (Translation: For you did not serve Hashem your God with joy and goodness of heart from all). Rashi explains the last words come out to mean because we didn’t serve Hashem with joy even though we were granted all the good things. Ikar Sifsei Chachomim explains that “mem” and “beis” are part of the same letter grouping, so you can switch them in a form of Drash to learn out what Rashi does (meaning “with all” rather than “from all”). The previous two pesukim (verses) state quite clearly that the curses come to us because we don’t follow Hashem’s Torah, and these will serve as a great wonder and a sign to all Jews forever. We can perhaps say that this is what is meant in Maseches Chagigah when Chazal say that someone who doesn’t experience Hester Ponim (Concealment of Hashem’s face, meaning the troubles of this world) might not actually be Jewish; the same word used for describing the bris milah as a sign, אות, is used to refer to the curses to fall upon Klal Yisroel.
The true reason we received all these curses, and will unfortunately rachmono litzlon, receive them further is due to not serving Hashem with joy and good-heartedness. The essential problem, according to Rabbeinu B’Chayeh is that Klal Yisroel didn’t serve Hashem with simcha; he even states simcha in avodas Hashem is a mitzvah in and of itself! Raboisai, my friends, we’re obviously in a time of many gezeiros koshos and Dinim (harsh decrees and judgements), seeing what’s going on in the world as a whole and in the areas surrounding our communities specifically. In my kuntress, iy’H soon to be released to the public, I wrote about this specific posuk in relation to serving Hashem b’simcha long before any aspect of our current situation. Even though we were prevented from going to shul for months, it’s back to just as it was before what with lackadaisical davening and endless shmoozing. We have to work on serving Hashem with true simcha, davening with kavana.
The way to work on attaining a state of true simcha is to realize there is no sadness before Hashem, like it says in the Hodu we say every day in davening “עז וחדוה במקומו” “Might and joy are in His place.” This is part of why the Nevi’im would have musicians perform some sort of music for them when they would need to enter the state to receive prophecy, since someone who is sad cannot reach Hashem’s “place” so to speak.
The first step to attaining simcha is to realize how much good Hashem does for you all the time, no matter what your station in life or situation, Hashem has done an incredible amount of good for you, from keeping your lungs running to making sure your brain functions at the level to function normally. Even if your situation is worse than that, there’s still what to thank Hashem for. Per example I’m a type 1 diabetic since I was a baby and should have died around four years old, so every day I have what to thank Hashem for.
After this acknowledgement of all Hashem’s goodness for you personally, the next step is to thank Him for it. From here you should contemplate the Shem Havayah (the four lettered unpronounceable name). The more you know of the Sodos of the Shem the more effect this will have, but even knowing practically nothing about it, meditating on the Shem through a basic visualization is incredibly beneficial for purifying the soul. It also leads to bringing His “place” down to you, which will help remove sadness and bring joy instead. Beyond this, devoting time to saying a few chapters Tehillim every day, and learning with the conscious awareness that Hashem and the Torah are united, will lead to joy. From this joy, iy’H we should be freed from all gezeiros koshos and Dinim and merit the coming of Moshiach swiftly.