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Shabbat Shuva

"This is your last warning... - Every parent, everywhere, every generation"


This week we read the last warnings in the Torah, the last time that Moshe tells us on G-d's behalf that we must obey or suffer the consequences. The warning is cataclysmic. The judgement we are threatened with, genuinely terrifying. And yet, we know this is not the end of the story. We know that the Jews misbehaved many more times, they were punished many more times, and importantly, the catastrophes we have been promised in the last few weeks of Torah readings never happened in their entirety, or even mostly. Why not?

There are two types of warnings that we receive. One type is the sort that a policeman issues. It is intended merely to disincentivise wrong behaviour. If we fail to listen, it is usually followed by rapid punishment. Another type of warning is the sort we tend to hear from our parents. Sometimes we receive a warning which we know probably won't get follow up. This warning is not about merely saying don't do this or get punished. Instead, it's a way of saying, I still love you, we still have a relationship, and I'm not happy with what you're doing right now.

We have been assured by G-d, again and again, that our relationship with Him is eternal. We have been assured, again and again, that no matter how angry He gets, He loves us still. We have been assured that no matter what happens, our people will have a happy ending.

G-d wants to have a relationship with us. The warnings we read this week are a natural continuation of that relationship. Relationships are sometimes difficult. They require work. However, the relationships with those we care for are worth the effort. This week G-d signals that He is ready to make that effort. We see that in the warnings, and in the Yom Kippur which is coming. Let's make sure that we are ready to connect to Him as well.

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