• Gabbai

Ekev – For Your Safety and Comfort

“And now Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. To observe the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you this day, to benefit you.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

What does God ask of us? The verses give us very broad instructions, which cover basically all of the Torah’s commandments including loving and fearing God. And why should we do all that? The final phrase of the verses cited above tell us that this is for our benefit. “To benefit you.”

We’ve heard this so many times. “Its for your own good.” Or, the choice phrase of official bureaucracies – “this is for your safety.” An article on local media last week wrote about parking wardens targeting cars of parents dropping their kids off in front of their Nelson school. When the parents complained they were told by the council that this was being done “for your safety.”

Well, I don’t feel safer after being slapped with a $40 fine. Waiting at the back of an orderly queue I have a nagging feeling that I’m not waiting “for my own good.” And turning off my cellphone when the airplane door is shut most certainly does not enhance “my own comfort.” Of course, we understand that there are certain procedures established to maintain order for the benefit of the wider public, of which I am a part. But it irks me that we have come to use these phrases as a fallback for any procedural rule to shut any complaints or protests. The verse here similarly tells us that we should be observant “for our own good.” Walking in the ways of God will benefit us. How is this different from all the other rules and procedures which are “for our own good?”