Parsha Behar-Bechukosai


May 3, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               IYAR  23, 5773


Candle-lighting Time:7:38 PM




If one would want to verify the authenticity of our Torah, this week’s parsha is sufficient evidence of the authorship of the Torah. We have suffered as a nation for many centuries. We have endured pogroms, holocausts, crusades and inquisitions. Our enemies have butchered us in the name of religion and decimated our communities to further their agenda of spreading the fundamentals of Christianity. Yet all the calamities that we have suffered were all foretold in the Torah. Parshas Bechukosai describes graphically the untold story of the future of our nation. The preface to our punishment clearly notes our ongoing contempt for mitzvos and our ultimate degeneration leading to overall skepticism in Hashem. Therefore, a whole assortment of retribution is levied against us. The anticipation of course was that we would reassess our lives and repent. Unfortunately, this was not the case and subsequently, as the Torah details, we were subject to further castigation. However, it is interesting to note that when we continue to rebel the term that describes our misconduct is that we are behaving in a way indicative of an ephemeral attitude. In other words, we don’t perceive the significance of the mitzvos to the extent that we should plan to observe them undyingly and enduringly. The turbulence of our lives bars us from that definitive move which would obligate us to observe the Torah under any and all circumstances.

Although this would appear to be a tremendous ‘affront’ to Hashem to demote His mitzvos to a backseat categorization of irrelevance, nonetheless, in contrast to the original sin, outright denial of Hashem, it seems to pale in comparison. Why do the punishments increase in intensity as we continue to serve Hashem with an ambivalent attitude when this negative perspective promoting this punishment is actually a much more subdued and restrained response? Even though we have not repented, nonetheless seemingly we have not maintained our initial denial and perhaps we have perhaps even rather softened our rejection of Hashem.

Malbim enlightens us and clarifies this issue. The Jewish people are aware that they have flouted the will of Hashem. The obvious deduction would be to realize and grasp that the difficulties and punishments that they are encountering are Hashem’s response to our iniquities. Is it possible that such unusual events should occur and we do not discern or reflect upon their extraordinary nature? We envisage that they are but random occurrences and we do not subscribe to the belief that they are truly Hashem’s hand reaching out and ‘attempting’ to restrain us from harming ourselves as we continue to pollute and sully the sanctity that is enclosed within each and every Jew.

Although denial of Hashem is the most damaging thought that a Jew can embrace, still the path of repentance remains an open viable option. The capability to reverse one’s actions and views continue to be available. However, one must sense the motivation to change course and set his sights on a different route in life. When the opportunity to decide is stifled, then the individual ability to evolve is suppressed and squashed. Progress at best is sluggish and most likely not possible. We become ensnared and tangled in a web of sin and despair which is difficult at best to emerge from and often the resultant harm can linger and return to depress us and impede our efforts to fully recover from what we have wrought. Nachmonides comments that it is our conceited stance that negates our ability to distinguish the reality of life and instead we substitute cheap falsifications such as political intrigue or military errors for our problems and dilemmas. Actually we refuse to see the hand of Hashem as the ultimate cause and effect for our quandaries and we rebuff the idea that Hashem dishes out our trials and tribulations. However, that it our realism and it dictates the entire scope of our lives both on the personal and community level and certainly on the global scene.

Joke of the Week 


Hashem in His great patience allows us to be successful and live wonderful lives despite the fact that we may be severely sinning and ignoring the Torah. When the ‘measure’ of our evil reaches such a point of oversaturation, then we receive our just reprimand. However, at that point we have the struggle to fully accept our chastisement because we have enjoyed so many excellent years of prosperity that we are unwilling to believe that we are being punished due to our sins.