There are many verses in the Bible that make a good life for Jews in Israel dependent on obeying the commandments. For example, in our weekly Torah portion, God says to Isaac:
“…for I will give all these lands to you and to your seed, and I will confirm the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. And I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and I will give all the land to your seed; And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My judgments, My commandments, My statutes, and My statutes!” (Genesis 26:3-5).
The covenant between God and the Jewish people was already made with Abraham, which, simply put, is that God promises the Jews a good life in the land if they keep his commandments.
This theme runs throughout the Bible, including the negative consequences of disobedience, as God told King Solomon after the building of the Temple:
“And as for you, if you walk before me as your father David walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, and do all that I have commanded you, and keep my statutes and my statutes, then I will have the throne of yours Kingship over Israel for ever, as I promised your father David, saying, You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel.
“But if you turn away from me, you and your sons, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have conquered gave them; and the house which I have sanctified for my name I will cast away from my face; and Israel shall become a proverb and a reproach among all nations.
“And at this house, no matter how exalted it will be, everyone who passes by it will be astonished, saying, ‘Why has the Lord done this to this land and this house?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt…’” (1 Kings 9:4-9)
In this current time of distress for the Jewish people, there are many accounts of survivors pleading for God’s help during the massacre and in return promising to keep one or more of His commandments.
A mother from a kibbutz said that she was home alone with her daughters when the Hamas terrorists invaded her town. She could see some of them outside her house and prayed to God to save her and her children. She turned her eyes to heaven and said, “If you protect me and my children now, I will observe every Shabbat from now on for the rest of my life.” As soon as she said this, she saw how the terrorists simply walked on, leaving her house untouched.
Another survivor of the music festival reported encountering a Hamas convoy on the road. The terrorists could look him in the eyes as he drove past them. He pushed his wife’s head down in the passenger seat, shouted “Shema Yisrael” and hit the gas, ducking and not seeing where he was going. He managed to escape the terrorists and, miraculously, “not a bullet hit the car.”
When he was safe, he broke down and cried, “Father, what do you want from us?” He and his wife decided after this miracle to strengthen their Jewish tradition and have observed Shabbat since their rescue.
“I was always afraid of religion, but now I’m not afraid anymore,” he explained. “We now have a wonderful Shabbat every week with the children and good food and stories. After what happened to us, there is only one thing we can do: strengthen our faith.”
At the end he reports that many of his friends and acquaintances have strengthened their faith and their adherence to the commandments. “As if God wanted to remind us with this event that He is still there.”
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