Parshat Bechukotai 5778: “Bechira”, Shabbos and The Tochochah

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Bechukotai is being sponsored anonymously dedicated in honor of HaRav Yehuda Leib HaKohen ben HaRav Moshe Shimon HaKohen and Miriam bat Reb Menachem Mendel and Reb Zev Avraham ben Shlomo and wife Sima.. To our anonymous sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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 a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Bechukotai 5778: “Bechira”, Shabbos and The Tochochah

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 ecclesiastical 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 here in previous Parshat HaShevua over recent years:

“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.”

But it seems at times that Klal Yisrael tolerates a governance, a so-called “Justice System” (oxymoron) and political entities both new and old, which don’t learn from their disastrous errors of the past, as well as misguided segments of certain sectors of the Am, all of whom seemingly travel yet further away from the Ways of Hashem and the mission of B’nai Yisrael.

To cite one particular example of descending from the Ways of Hashem and the mission of B’nai Yisrael: A new political entity, who has invoked separation of religion and state for Israel — the nation of the Jews, as bechirot — choice, in what this author views as a benign expression pertaining to observance of Shabbos visa vi the “issue” of transportation.

The particular political entity in question has framed discussion of this “issue” in a Q. and A. handout:

What is your position about public transportation on Shabbos?

“Bechira” [choice] is a value shared by all Jews, from the most religious to the least. It is not the state’s place, nor is it G’d’s desire, that the state force religion. We will provide an atmosphere to encourage people to keep Shabbos, but each community will make its own decisions, and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

Please note the key phrase at the end:

“…and private companies can fulfill those needs.”

This author must express the principle that the term “private companies” in the above context is an oxymoron. defines oxymoron as:

Noun. A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”

In other words, the words “private companies” have conflicting meanings. Private, again via

Belonging to some particular person: private property.

Pertaining to or affecting a particular person or a small group of persons; individual; personal: for your private satisfaction.

Confined to or intended only for the persons immediately concerned; confidential

Company or Companies, in the above context, indicate an organization which either directly or indirectly deals with the public. In short, there seems, in the above context of transporting a public, there is no such thing as a “private company.”

Of course, in a “democracy”, in principle no one can force or compel an individual regarding Shabbos observance. But, regarding a company or organization which deals with a public, not just the individual who violates halacha by driving on Shabbos, can one begin to contemplate, to imagine the halachic implicatons and consequences spiritually, economically of Bitul Shabbos, Chillul Hashem on a company level and the opening of pandora’s box?

Tanach repeatedly states regarding this or that Melech, that he “did not do what was good” in Hashem’s eyes” regarding avodah zora. Can we not make the same equation regarding chillul Shabbos?

So how does this political entity, how do we justify a Sovereignty over Har HaBayit, Ma’arat HaMachpela and all of, or any part of Eretz Yisrael without Shabbos observance? Undoubtedly, this political entity will lose more support than it will gain.

In a nation of the Jews, we are defined, both in Shemayim and in the eyes of the world by our adherence to Torah, to Halacha and there is no other aspect of Yiddishkeit which so defines a Jew as the keeping of Shabbos, and thus it seems clear to this author that Shabbos, as with no other Halacha or Mitzvah, can not be treated benignly or subject to so-called “separation of religion and state.” This author has expressed often in the past that Shabbos is either the embarkation point for coming closer to Hashem, or the disembarkation point distancing one from Hashem.

And where does this pandora’s box of separation of religion and state and resultant mass desecration of Shabbos lead? Compelled work on Shabbos by increasing numbers of companies, civil and mixed marriage, same-genderism, negation of Rabbinic, halachic authority for State civil courts and much more — the ultimate loss of both our heritage and our lineage as Jews.

So how does a political entity, how do we justify, how does Hashem justify a Jewish Sovereignty over Har HaBayit, Ma’arat HaMachpela and all of, or any part of Eretz Yisrael without Shabbos observance? How do we justify ourselves to Hashem, as with the two bloods of Pesach? Undoubtedly, this political entity will lose more support than it will gain.

To cite another prime example of descent from the Ways of Hashem and the mission of B’nai Yisrael: That certain segments within a certain sector of B’nei Yisrael continue to resort to brutally attacking, both verbally and physically, and alienating young soldiers who enlisted in the military, because such enlistment runs contrary to the ways and beliefs of their sect’s “leader.” If we learn that the 24,000 Talmidim of Rabbi Akiva were taken because of hidden, concealed lack of kavod for each other, how much more so might the obvious, outward cruelty and brutally meted out by this group toward their fellows also bring Divine retribution?

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 have set in amongst the sectors of the people of Israel. And the enemy amongst us, within; weak-willed pseudo-right wing leaders who compromise either their ideological and spiritual principles, or the liberal intelligencia, the leftist, socialist, self-hating self-deprecating self-affectionated self-proclaimed intellectuals — 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.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three and 3/4 years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’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.