Parshat Bechukotai 5774: The Tochochah and Sincere, True National Contrition

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Bechukotai is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch of Efrat in commemoration of the Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s parents, Mordechai ben Avraham Aba and Sarah Reetza Bat Tzion bat Avraham Yaakov. The Yahrtzeit of Avraham’s Dad is on Yud Tess Iyar. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your kindness.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua. Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Bechukotai 5774: The Tochochah and Sincere, True National Contrition

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. defines “admonition” thus:

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.”

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 nine 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 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 the latter.

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 Jewish Blood-stained terrorist killers, of possible surrender of parts of our eternal capital — Jerusalem, there has been no collective rising up of indignation amongst the Am Yisrael, even among numbers of those who had previously expressed apologies and regrets to their former Gush Katif brethren. Instead, divisiveness, fractionalization, coercion and polarization has set in amongst the sectors of the people of Israel. And the enemy amongst us, within, is hot to seize on this divisiveness amongst the people as the means to their sinful ends — divide and conquer.

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.

As a result, the B’nai Yisrael is often deceived by it’s own evil 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 see 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, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to prevent the possibility of Chas V’Callila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over 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!!!

Good Shabbos!

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.