This week’s Torah reading begins: “Today I am setting before you a blessing and a curse: The blessing that you heed the commandments of G‑d and the curse if you do not heed the commandments.”

Man is given free choice. G‑d does not force him to accept the commandments, nor will He stand in man’s way if he choose not to follow them. The choice is ours.

Why did G‑d make it that way? He is after all the Creator of all existence, and He could have made man any way He wanted. Why did He give man a potential to disobey and ignore Him?

Because without such a challenge, of what value would man’s Divine service be? If man was like a robot, naturally and spontaneously doing G‑d’s will, could he claim any credit for those efforts? And would they bring any satisfaction to G‑d? What satisfaction is there in the inevitable?

It is precisely when man has an alternative, when he lives in a world where G‑dliness is not open and apparent, and he has personal desires which conflict with the Torah’s decrees that his choice to serve G‑d is truly virtuous. For man to serve G‑d under such conditions requires him to reach to the core of his being, and summon up powerful spiritual energies. Such service is an achievement, one which brings satisfaction to both man and G‑d.