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    The worst sin – Ki Tavo

    malnovitzer zvi 1945 dancing with the torahThe collection of curses which we call the Tochechah frightens the most unemotional amongst us. What God threatens for disobedience is truly horrific.

    One of the Chassidic rebbes, Rabbi Yechi’el Me’ir of Gostinin, noticed that there is only one specific sin which the section identifies: “Because you didn’t serve the Lord your God in joy and good cheer” (Deut. 28:47).

    Obviously the Torah is not going to forgive us for the whole sheaf of infractions which we carry out, but the only one it names is the sin of being in a bad mood.

    One could of course say that this is a general piece of advice, and we have to do our best to be in a good mood at all times.

    But as Rabbi Yechi’el Me’ir notices, what the Torah is talking about is our mood in the way we conduct ourselves towards God.

    If we pray with a sour face, it shows we don’t really believe in what we are doing.

    If we invoke the name of God but don’t smile as we do, it is a transgression against the rule of the Shema to love God with all our heart, soul and might.

    If we eat kosher food but complain all the time, it shows we aren’t behaving with the appropriate enthusiasm about obeying the will of the Creator.

    There’s something lacking if we can’t be happy and gracious about being Jewish.

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