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    Reward & punishment – Ki Tavo

    Twice every year the Torah readings focus on reward and punishment as expounded in a Tochechah, a series of blessings and curses. This Shabbat is one of the two occasions.

    It promises rewards for obedience to the commandments and threatens horrific punishments for disobedience.

    However, it all sounds very unfair. Surely a person should comply with the Divine rules for their own sake and not need a handout from heaven as a sweetener! Surely a person should do the right thing without needing threats of suffering as a warning against sin!

    The explanation seems to be that the rewards and punishments are not incentives but consequences. Do the right thing for its own sake, and the consequences will be positive. Avoid the wrong thing, not because you fear punishment but because you know it is wrong, and the consequences will turn out to be negative.

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