This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Bechukotai is being co-sponsored by Mordechai and Gila Bernstein and family dedicated for the engagement of their son Aryeh Leib, and by Yechiel and Tova Nussbaum, both families from Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for B’Ezrat Hashem the total end of the corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. To the Bernsteins and Nussbaums, many thanks for your co-sponsorships 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.
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.
The opening posuk in our Parsha reads:
“If you will go in My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them:” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 26, posuk 3 as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary)
Rashi comments with relevant notes to our opening posuk (ibid, page 348):
“If you will go in My statutes…” One might be able to think that this refers to fulfillment of the commandments — when it says, (“and observe My commandments”) “and to perform them.” See that fulfillment of the commandments has been stated. What then… is meant by “If you go in My Statues”? That you should be laboring in the Torah.
Note 2 [brings from] Toras Kohanim, Parshat 1:2 — “you will go,” connotes movement from place to place, and alludes to the process of Torah study, in which one regularly progresses to increasingly more sophisticated levels of understanding. Teileichu also means “you will walk,” which can be a laborious activity; thus, “you should be laboring in Torah.” (Citing Gur Aryeh)
“And observe My commandments.” Be laboring in the Torah — in order to observe and to fulfill that which you learn, as it says, — “and you shall study them, and you shall observe them to perform them.”
Note 3 According to… Mizrachi, the first phrase, “If you will go in My decrees,” refers to laboring in Torah study for the sake of fulfillment, a much greater purpose than that implied by the first phrase; and the third phrase, “and perform them.” refers to the actual fulfillment of the commandments.
According to other versions, the first phrase refers to laboring in Torah study, the second explains that the purpose of that labor should be for the sake of fulfillment; and the third phrase speaks of the actual fulfillment.
Note 5 [refers to] Sefer Devarim, Perek 5, posuk 1 — It is clear… that “observing” is not the performance itself, but rather the stage that precedes performance. (Citing Mizrachi)
In the Chovos Halevovos Cheshbon HaNefesh booklet published lilui nishmas HaRav Chaim Zev ben Avrohom Aharon HaLevi Malinowitz, zt”l on the occasion of the Shloshim in Kislev 5780, Rav Malinowitz writes regarding day twenty-four and provides additional insights which seem to closely relate to the opening posuk of our Parsha:
Reflect that the Torah and tefillah knowledge of your youth is insufficient. Study the language and interpretations with renewed and higher understanding, remember, and review.
Additional insights from HaRav Malinowitz, zt”l:
We are pretty satisfied if we’ve learned something in the past, review it regularly, and remember it. Wonderful, no?
NO! Says the Chovos Halevovos. You’ve matured, your intelligence has grown more sophisticated, you’ve acquired more depth, a wider perspective, sharper analytical skills.
Do not be satisfied with Chumash as you learned it in fifth grade… with davening as you davened as a fourteen year old, with Gemara or hashkafa which you learned decades ago, as you learned them decades ago. Always review and increase the quality of your learning… or your davening… or your avodas Hashem.
The Sochaczever Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l writes, in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel” on our Parshat Bechukotai (pages 286-287):
Within a framework of Judaism, the nature of the intellect is to strive to understand Hashem, working to appreciate the complexity of creation and its Creator through the lense of His holy Torah. The emotional component of man, however, should seek humility and contrition…
…The midrash quoted Rabbi Yochanan, who said that the creation of heaven was begun before that of earth, while the earth was completed before the heavens…. Intellectual development must be one’s first priority. But once one has begun, one should switch to development of humility and other suitable emotional traits, which can in turn lead to further intellectual growth, unhindered by the dangers of arrogance.
So, to this author’s understanding, our Parsha’s opening posuk: “If you will go in My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them:” indicates lifelong striving for deeper understanding of Hashem’s statutes and commandments, and thus deeper heart and mind intensity in performing all aspects of Hashem’s service with a spirit of humility and contrition, totally devoid of arrogance or honor-seeking.
And in so doing, Hashem will convey upon B’nei Yisrael all manner of blessings. But if B’nei Yisrael strays from Hashem’s statutes and commandments, Hashem promises the first of two Tochachot (the second and larger Tochacha is found in Sefer Devarim), as Rabbi Shmuel Goldin writes in his Parsha summary (Unlocking the Torah Text, Sefer Vayikra, page 222):
Each of these Tochachot features stern, prophetic warnings of the terrible disasters to befall the people should they fail to follow Hashem’s will.
May we be zocha to grow perpetually in our knowledge of, and insight in Torah and in our performance of Hashem’s service.
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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he is now in his second year at home in Eretz Yisrael. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!!!
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.