Re’eh 5773 – Don’t Add and Don’t Subtract

Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do. You shall neither add to it nor subtract from it. (Devarim 13:1)

Imagine you are in a restaurant and you order a salad. The restaurant advertises that the salads are made to order and you start to tell the waiter how you would like your salad. You would like lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. You do not want peppers or onions. You would like Russian dressing on the side. The waiter writes down your order and comes back a few minutes later with your salad. Immediately you notice onions all over the top of the salad. The waiter asks you if there is a problem and you tell him that you specifically said you did not want onions. The waiter smiles and says, “I know that. I wrote that down, but I did everything else you said and just decided to ignore that part of the order. So, what’s the problem?” Would you be upset? Would you give this waiter a tip? I probably wouldn’t even leave the waiter a dime for being a fool.

Let me give you a totally different situation. This next situation might be a true story, but even if it is not, it has a great lesson. A batter steps up to plate with bases loaded. The coach tells the hitter that he should bunt the ball and they will try to score the run using the squeeze bunt. The first pitch comes and the batter swings full force and hits a homerun. The batter joyously trots around the bases. He comes back to the dugout and is ready to give everyone a High Five when his coach stops him and points to the showers. The coach says, “Congrats on the homerun, but I told you to bunt. I am the coach and you need to listen to me. Therefore, until you learn that lesson, you cannot play on my team. Go to the locker room – you are being thrown out of the game by me.”

This week’s parsha tells us that we may not add nor subtract to the mitzvos. When a servant is serving a master, he does not get to choose what he wants to do. He must follow the master’s orders. Only a foolish servant would not follow the master’s orders exactly.

But a person might think, “I don’t want to be a servant.” Let me ask you a question. If you had the opportunity to be a servant to the President, would you do it? If you could be the person who carries around the sports equipment for the greatest athlete, would you do it? Everyone would jump at the opportunity! Well, if that is true then how much more true should it be to serve the Master of the Universe, HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Hashem is the most powerful being in the universe and He tells you that if you follow Him, He will reward you. And unlike serving a human, no matter how great they are, they cannot guarantee a reward. Hashem can. A person should not add nor subtract from the mitzvos. We should fulfill each of the 613 mitzvos exactly as we are commanded.

Good Shabbos!
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