Sedra of the week: Vaetchanan
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Sedra of the week: Vaetchanan

Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

This week’s sedra starts with Moses saying “…and I prayed to God at that time”.

The word used for prayer is not the usual one; its root is from the word chanan, which means “grace”, so translates as “I asked God for His grace at that time”.

The rabbis make a striking point. “Righteous”people, they say, do not ask God for something based on their good deeds. They simply ask Him for a free gift.

One would think if anyone is going to mention the good deeds they have done and ask God for something based on that, it would be “righteous” people.

But the rabbis tell us that part of the Jewish definition of a righteous person is understanding that this world is nothing more than a free gift — and hence feeling deep gratitude in seeing the world that way.

Can anyone tell me what they did to “deserve” this gorgeous world? How did you help God out?

In Jewish thinking, every precious moment of our lives is simply a free, generous, open-hearted gift from a loving Father in Heaven. There is nothing that He needs from us.

We are simply the lucky recipients of His incredible love. And if we want to ask for more, via prayer, He’s very open to listening — but equally we should not have expectations.

“Righteous” people, the rabbis say, pray for a free gift. They appreciate that nothing is coming to them. It’s all a bonus. So, if they get it, they are deeply grateful. If they do not, they will be equally grateful for all that they have.

Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt is founder of Tikun UK

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