This Shabbat we read Parshat Bechukotai. Perhaps the most notable part of this Parsha is the reading of the Tochachah - the curses. The Ba'al Keriah reads these Pesukim with a quick pace and a lower voice.
Chazal teach us that the order of reading was structured so that we should read these curses before Shavuot and the second set of curses (in Parshat Ki-Tavo) before Rosh Hashanah. As we prepare to celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, we have to appreciate what happens when we follow the precepts of the Torah, and what happens when we Chas Veshalom do not follow.
The conversation does not end there. If we base our entire religion and its observance on reward and punishment, on guilt and fear, then I think we have missed the point. Too many of us were raised on a Judaism that made us feel bad about what we were doing (or not doing). While consequences are crucial, I think we have to learn how to find more beauty and meaning in our Jewish lives. Our religion is so rich with fulfillment. Sadly, we often miss all the sweetness in Yiddishkeit because of the bitter taste of all that we think it is not.