Parashat B'har

Elevation or Obstacle?

The mountain in this week's parashah can be a place of spiritual growth or an impediment.

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These are not just guidelines for moral living. Nor are they simply instructions for how to interact with those who live in our midst. They are guidelines for living a spiritual life in the context of a Divine relationship. In that way, they are instructions for insuring--for guaranteeing--a vibrant future.

We need not wait for the world to come as imagined by the Rabbis. Rather we can experience it here on earth, in our own time, if we can learn to live in harmony with one another. The journey to spiritual fulfillment is not easy, and can be fraught with pitfalls--hence the "mountain" in the portion's title. God's instructions can seem like obstacles at times. If we can live according to God's rules, however, we will be rewarded not only materially but spiritually as well.

When we are able to accomplish this task, then the obstacle of the mountain will give way to the mountain as the peak of spiritual ecstasy.

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Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and the author of numerous books about Jewish spirituality.