Have you ever experienced eating a small piece of cake, only to find that hours later the cake was half gone? In this week’s parsha, self control is a big theme. Moshe tells us of a blessing and a curse. The blessing can only be given if one performs the mitzvot of Hashem. Meanwhile, the curse will occur if one disobeys the commandments of Hashem.
This week’s parsha also talks about how you are not allowed to eat the blood of slaughtered animals. You could eat from the meat, but not from the blood. No one will eat something as bizarre as blood because it is not something that looks appetizing in any way. Therefore, why is blood even mentioned? Rashi says Moshe was trying to use something as distasteful as blood as an example, so that you would know Kal Vachomer (how much more so), the temptation for something else is present. From here we learn that we must always build restraint in our daily lives, even for the most minuscule things. Controlling your desires takes time. First, you must start with the tiny things and then improve and expand.
The holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are quickly approaching. These holidays are focused on repenting and asking Hashem for forgiveness. If we work on our self restraint, eventually our sins will be lessened. It is for this reason that self control is so important. All of the sins that we do are triggered by our Yetzer Hara, or evil inclination. With practice, we must learn to overcome it! This is why eating only a piece of cake is crucial. Little by little, you will have such a controlled balance portion. This balanced trait of control is connected to yet another mitzvah: מצות לא תעשה.
The parsha speaks about the destruction of idols. It mentions that the person (a false prophet) who is causing the people of a land to have no restraint, and the city shall be wrecked. It is also no coincidence that it talks about building Hashem’s home, the Beit Hamikdash. It is written here as another explaination of the importance of self control. When you enter Hashem’s home and bring him an offering, you will have a motivation to serve him and never stray from him. The month of Elul is here, and I hope you choose the blessing. By holding back and just striving to be good, you are strengthening your self from the desires, which are not pure.
By: Sarah Rosenthal, 11th grade