If all the paths of the Torah are paths of happiness, so why is Parshas Ki Savo full of tochacha – warnings about unhappiness and punishment?
In the subway there’s a sign that says, “Watch Your Step.” But that sign is not always enough. It would be better if they told you what can happen to you if you don’t watch your step.
You know, the Torah says that Hashem spoke to Aharon Hakohen אחרי מות שני בני אהרן —After the death of the two sons of Aharon (Vayikra 16). And He said: אל יבא בכל עת אל הקודש — Watch out! You shouldn’t come whenever you want into the Sanctuary because ולא ימות — otherwise you’ll die” (ibid.). And the chachomim tell us that Hashem was especially using the the death of Aharon’s two sons and the warning was like this: “Aharon, you, the one who is kodesh la’Hashem, you, the brother of Moshe Rabeinu, you, the great and holy high priest, the Kohen Gadol, you better listen to Me. You have to obey what I tell you and if not, you’ll die just like your two sons died.” That’s what Hashem said to Aharon.
Now, is that a way to talk to Aharon?! Aharon Hakohen would obey anyhow without such strong words! You have to hit him over the head like that, in order to get him to conform to the law of the Torah?!
And the answer is, the more a person is frightened into doing what is good for him, the better off he is. That’s why the Surgeon General’s warning should be the main sign on the big cigarette billboards. If you want, you can put in the corner of the billboard a little picture of boys and girls with white teeth smiling at each other, the Marlboro man wearing a cowboy hat, on a cowboy horse, Marlboro country; all that should be in the little picture in the corner. The main sign should be the Surgeon General’s warning about cancer and emphysema – that’s the most important part, the warning.
And therefore, the Torah spends time on telling us the consequence of disobedience. It’s very important! It’s all happiness! The man who accepts the aliyah for the tochacha deserves a special m’shebeirach because what you’re doing by that aliyah is you’re giving a blessing to the people. The tochacha is very good; everybody should make sure to hear the tochacha. All the reform Jews should hear the tochacha because they’re bringing it upon themselves now by their behavior. Jews that are throwing away everything of their yiddishkeit should know that they won’t get away with it.
They’re already seeing the results – the nachas from their children. They don’t have too many children, the reformers, but they see the nachas that comes from letting boys and girls do what they want – they ruin their lives. The cemeteries are full today with a very young population. Never before did so many young people die unnaturally as today – teens are committing suicide today more than ever before.
So it’s very good to frighten people with the tochacha because the result will be nothing but happiness. That’s why the warnings of the tochacha are really a form of prescription for life.
TAPE # 772