The first verse of parashat Bechukotai states, "If you follow my laws....I will give you rain at their correct time." (Deut. 26:3-4) Why does the Torah emphasize these physical rewards; shouldn't it focus on spiritual rewards in the afterlife? Rebbe Michel of Zlotshuv is even more astounded and asks, "Why does G‑d promise us anything at all? Are we not supposed to serve the Almighty without the expectation of receiving any reward (see Avot 1:3)? If this is the case, it does not matter what is promised! Any promise only confuses the situation. Isn't it preferable not to mention any rewards at all, and preclude the need for rabbinic warnings not to serve G‑d with the intention of receiving a reward. Blessings will come on their own to those who deserve them."

All of us are one integrated entity….

Rebbe Michel answered that any person who serves G‑d is most certainly blessed for his efforts with all manner of physical and spiritual blessings (as all the commandments are conduits for blessings). Nevertheless, this service has to be done sincerely for G‑d's sake, with great love, awe and modesty - without even a trace of an ulterior motive, of "serving the Master for the sake of receiving a reward". If someone is prompted by the thought of gain, he will not be rewarded, because he is motiovated personal benefit. This is the meaning of the words "If you will follow My laws and keep My commandments": If you serve G‑d properly, as a result, there will be for you a sign, an indicator, viz., the rains will fall at the proper time and the earth will bear fruit. You will see that the blessings come as a result of executing the commandments properly, only for the sake of Heaven. As I heard a young woman recently comment, "It is important to know that G‑d is listening."

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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