“Pay them according to their deeds.” (28:4)
Reward and punishment do not always work out perfectly. Sometimes, good people do not prosper and evil people do not suffer. However, most of the time, in the long run, goodness is recognized. People are attracted to good people. They will have better and deeper friendships. Good people will tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives. Truly good people do not do good things because of recognition or reward. Goodness is not a tool to be used as a means to get something. Good deeds are an end unto themselves.
“I walk about in your faithfulness.” (26:3)
Trust is what allows society to function effectively. Retail stores, religious institutions, and places of entertainment may take precautions against miscreants, but for the most part they trust that people will follow the rules and not be destructive. A goal of terrorism is to undermine a society by making us afraid to shop or assemble in places of entertainment or worship. Terror destroys trust in our fellow human beings. “Innocent until proven guilty” is replaced by deep suspicion and mistrust. Rather than seeing a potential enemy in every encounter, let us see a human being created in the image of God.
“You have set upon his head a crown of fine gold.” (21:4)
We might understand the function of a kippah to be a mark of identification as a Jew and a reminder to the wearer of his or her Jewish responsibilities. A gold crown is a kippah, a thousand times heavier. Every person wears a crown denoting him or her as a being created in the image of God. It’s the ultimate participation trophy, with a twist. The crown is a weighty burden that functions as a constant reminder to live up to the responsibility and privilege of being human.
“May God grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill your every plan.” (20:5)
Is this a blessing or a curse? We want a lot of things, but not everything our heart desires is actually good for us or for the world. We make plans that fail when our desire overreaches our ability to ensure success. Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to us is to be reminded that our plans and our heart’s desires are not enduring, forcing us to take a second look at the priorities in our lives. May your heart’s desire and your every plan be aligned with your very best God-given potential.
“A groom going forth from the chamber …” (19:6)
Each human soul is a world unto itself, created in the image of God. When two such souls meet under the huppah at the wedding ceremony, there is an infinity of potential. We don’t know what this couple is going to do together, how they will motivate each other to reach their highest potential, if or how they will raise children and what gifts the children will bring to the world. The undeveloped energy is the groom, the sun, going forth from its chamber on its way to bring amazing light into the world.