Between Fear and Awe: Forgetting the Self

Rabbi Shai Held

Parashat Ki Tavo

Reading the curses in Deuteronomy can be a distressing experience. After a relatively brief evocation of the good fortune that awaits Israel should it obey God’s laws, parashat Ki Tavo goes to great lengths to describe the disasters that will befall the people should they disobey. Can it really be desirable for the Jewish people to worship God out of abject fear? On one level, it would seem, the answer is yes. After all, Jewish theology places great emphasis on our obligation to fear God… or does it? (5775)