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    Reward or punishment? – Ekev

    The sidra devotes considerable attention to the theological problem of reward and punishment.

    Simplistically, it tells us that if you do a mitzvah you will be rewarded, and if you sin you will be punished.

    But life doesn’t work that way. There are people who are wicked and cruel and seem to prosper. There are some who are pious and obedient and still suffer deprivation.

    The Psalmist (37:25) does not accept this; he says at the end of the Grace After Meals, “I have never seen a righteous man forsaken”. The Psalmist must have been a lucky man, but others are not so fortunate.

    Maimonides tells us that it all depends on the nature and quality of the deed. Not every good deed nor every sin is treated equally. Nor does a reward or punishment follow the good or evil deed immediately. Sometimes the consequence of the deed takes a long time to emerge, possibly only occurring in Heaven.

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