This week, our Parshiyot HaShevua, Parshat Bechukotai is being sponsored by Dr. Pinchas and Pnina Klahr of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for Nasan Karpel ben Shmuel Zanvil Tzvi and Matisyahu ben Yaakov. To the Klahr family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
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Parshat Bechukotai 5775: The Perils of the Tochochah Today, and Our Failure to Heed
by Moshe Burt
Our Parshat Bechukotai, the last parsha in Sefer Vayikra, deals with the Hashem’s enunciation of the blessings and curses of the Tochochah: Hashem’s Admonition of B’nai Yisrael.
1. an act of admonishing.
2. counsel, advice, or caution.
3. a gentle reproof.
4. a warning or reproof given by an eccleslastical authority.
Near the conclusion of the Tochochah, Torah states the following (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posukim 40-41, 44-45) :
“They will confess their sin and the sin of their forefathers, for the treachery with which they betrayed Me, and also for having behaved toward Me with casualness. I, too, will behave toward them with casualness and I will bring them into the land of their enemies — perhaps then their unfeeling heart will be humbled and then they will gain appeasement for their sin. …While they are in the land of their enemies, I will not have been revolted by them nor will I have rejected them to obliterate them, to annul my covenant with them — for I am Hashem, their God. I will remember for them the covenant of the ancients, those whom I have taken out of the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations, to be God unto them — I am Hashem.”
This conclusion of the Tochochah, as enunciated in Torah, seems stated in another way in Tehillim Psalm 81 which has been cited in another Parshat HaShevua in a previous year:
“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Egypt, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But My people did not heed My voice and Israel did not desire me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, they follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand. Those who hate Hashem lie to Him — so their destiny is eternal. But, He would feed him with the cream of the wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”
R’ Zelig Pliskin, in “Growth Through Torah” (page 303) entitles his thoughts on these posukim as “Don’t just confess your sins, actually improve.” With those words, R’ Pliskin seems to encapsulate true Jewish teshuvah as contrasted with the mere periodic cyclical confession (“forgive me father, for I have sinned…”) of another ‘faith”, followed by repetition of the very sin just confessed to.
R’ Pliskin cites the Chofetz Chayim from his sefer “Chofetz Chayim al HaTorah” (“Growth Through Torah”, page 303):
…The Torah teaches us that just confessing one’s wrongdoings without sincerely regretting the wrong one has done and without accepting on oneself to improve in the future is not worth anything. The most important aspect of repentance is to improve oneself from now on. Only positive changes in one’s actual behavior is true repentance.
In reflecting on the cited posukim above and the words of the Chofetz Chayim, as cited by R’ Pliskin, they seem to relate just as much on a communal/national level in rectifying national sins as they do to rectification of an individual’s sins.
Through the nearly ten years since the Ge’irush — the expulsion of our Jewish brethren from their homes, towns and communal lives in Gush Katif by a former Israeli government, regrets and apologies have flowed to our brethren. Remembering back to those days and after, there were those who defamed their brethren — many who later expressed apologies for their words and actions. And there were those who stood, or rather sat by — not daring to leave their studies, or to put their jobs or family lives on hold to help and support their brethren, and who went on with their lives — “business as usual” during the very days of the Ge’irush. It seems as if we have yet to hear the slightest contrition from many.
And yet, with the constant threats or actualizations, by subsequent Israeli governments through the years, of further expulsions from parts of Our Eretz Yisrael, i.e. Yehuda, the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), the Jordan Valley, etc., of construction freezes, releases of terrorist killers with Jewish Blood-Stained hands, of possible surrender of parts of our eternal capital — Jerusalem, there seems to have been no collective rising up of indignation amongst the collective Am Yisrael, even among numbers of those who had previously expressed apologies and regrets to their former Gush Katif brethren.
A commentary in Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed (page 126) on the Tochochah, the admonishment, the reproof, is explicit as to the punishments that will befall B’nai Yisrael if they violate Hashem’s Torah:
“I (Hashem), will set my face against you and you will be smitten before your enemies. They that hate you will rule over you.” (Parshat Bechukotai, Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posuk 17)
The commentary is as follows;
The text implies that included among the enemies will be those from Yisrael, enemies from within. These enemies, say our Rabbanim, are the most vicious of adversaries. Jews who do not accept their Judaism, and who seek to destroy their fellow Jews, are the most dangerous of all. They are traitors against their own kind who know where their fellow men are most vulnerable. (Sefer L’lmode Ul’lamed, Parshat Bechukotai, page 126)
They are Jews who seem to deny their roots and do not accept their Judaism. They put their “emunah” in mortals — in the prowess of man, in themselves and their self-interests and self-enrichment, in the super-power of the time while seeking to destroy their fellow Jews, Jewish roots, laws, history and heritage.
It is tragic that often the worst enemy of the Jewish people, and those most dangerous to the Jews, are the Jews themselves.
Indeed, divisiveness, fractionalization, coercion and polarization has set in amongst the sectors of the people of Israel. And the enemy amongst us, within; weak-willed pseudo-right wing leaders, or the liberal intelligencia, the leftist, socialist, self-hating self-deprecating self-affectionated self-proclaimed intellectuals, the pseudo-zionists of Buji -Tzipi’s lapdog ilk — they’re hot to seize on this divisiveness and polarization amongst the various sectors of Am Yisrael as the means to their sinful ends — divide and conquer.
As a result, B’nai Yisrael is often deceived by it’s own equivocal and often cruel rulers into feeling that all is helpless and casting doubts as to a Divine Being Who Runs the World. These evil rulers seek to subvert Torah, our history and our traditions to suit their own ends and self-interests. We view the deception of Israel’s current prime minister and Banana Republic government which is NOT strongly rooted in Torah and thus caves to the avodah zora of mortal man — to super-power pressure as an appropo example of evil governance.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.