"Deal or no deal? A good deal? Maybe a better deal. Is no deal better than a bad deal?" This Tuesday's agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is up for discussion. Was the correct path taken by engaging diplomatically with an openly hostile country? Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that from the beginning the US was bent on making a deal no matter what, thereby weakening our negotiating power from the outset. Is he right?

This query is quite common throughout many aspects of daily life, though perhaps in a slightly different setting. Life is replete with challenges and obstacles that are constantly thrown our way, presenting us with the dilemma: "Deal or no deal?" When faced with a challenge posed by an individual or circumstance, should we civilly engage with them, or seek to simply overpower them - whatever or whoever they might be - with brute force? Or perhaps these two paths can live together? Is it possible to always strongly assert oneself, while at the very same time be kind, compassionate and understanding?

In this week's Torah portions (yes, there are two for this week) we read of the Jewish people approaching the Promised Land. We read of the many stops they made on the way, and of the final preparations they experienced before realizing the dream of entering the land of milk and honey.

Just as with everything else in the Torah, the documentation of our ancestors' entry into the Land of Israel 3,000 years ago serves as a practical message for us to implement in our daily lives, and not just an obsolete history lesson.

How so? Every one of us starts off our lives under the watchful care and tutelage of others. We are guided and tended to by parents, family and teachers. Similarly, the Jews wandered the desert for forty years with their every need taken care of for them by God.

Yet the Jews were not given this "royal treatment" ad infinitum, and needed to enter the Promised Land to start cultivating a land on their own. So too does every one of us reach a point where we begin to chart our own lives, care for ourselves, earn a living and tend to our own children. The message the Torah transmits by having us read the story of the entry into Israel 3,000 years later is straightforward: life is about "entering the land" - getting out there, persevering, working hard, making the best of our talents and capabilities and transforming the world into a kind, giving, holy place.

Just before the Torah tells us of the Jews' entry into the Land, the Torah pauses and asks our very question: "Deal or no deal?" The wording is a little different, but the idea the same. The Torah interrupts the story to teach us the laws of how to annul a vow. We might make such a vow any day: "I'll never talk to you again!" or "I swear that's the last time I'm doing you a favor!" are just examples. Words are very powerful, and things we say are taken quite seriously by Jewish law.The Torah puts high priority on giving us the legal tools to render such statements void.

How does all this come together? Life is about leaving the desert and entering the Land of Israel. Leaving the homes of our birth and charting destinies of our own. Persevering and building up our lives. But the Torah pauses to teach us a timeless lesson. For while charting our own destinies in life, we might make many "vows". Vows of insulation from the outside world. Vows to further our interests no matter the stakes. But it is always important to be able to bring those vows - walls we put up between us and others - down. Notwithstanding our desire to build ourselves up, life is ultimately about living in harmony with the world around us, not shunning it. To find the good within every person, and bring it to the fore.

So "Deal or no deal?" Should we seek to live a life of strength and assertion? Or of trying to accommodate others and their needs? Both are true. Living in harmony with others does not necessitate putting ourselves down. On the contrary. When we truly have a strong sense of purpose and pride in who we are, where we are going with our lives and what we stand for, only then can we truly bring out the best in others as well.

Rabbi Avrohom