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    Reaping a reward – B’chukkotai

    Judaism insists that reward and punishment are determined by human action. If you obey God you will be rewarded, if you disobey you will be punished.

    The general principle is beyond debate, but the details are a problem. How do we define reward (or punishment)? Are we rewarded financially, agriculturally, climatically, intellectually, emotionally, psychologically?

    Is the reward (or punishment) in this world or the next? Are there personal consequences of our deeds, or are the consequences communal? Who gets the reward or punishment, me or my society or mankind as a whole?

    What does the word “obey” (or “disobey”) connote – believing in God, fulfilling a ritual mitzvah, being ethical?

    An unexpected approach comes in Pir’kei Avot 4:2, where Ben Azzai says that the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah and the punishment of a sin is a sin. Maybe this means that the reward of a mitzvah is the thought and feeling that you have done a good thing. Maybe it means that the reward of a mitzvah is the opportunity of going on to do the next mitzvah.

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