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   by Jacob Solomon

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PARSHAT BECHUKOTAI 5768: D'VAR TORAH


The Blessings opening the Parasha begin with:

If you follow My statutes, and observe My commandments and perform them (26:3).

Observing the commandments, the Midrash (Torat Kohanim: Bechukotai 1:2) explains, means just that. Following 'My statutes' according to the Midrashic tradition has a very specific meaning. That is to 'engage in intensive Torah study'.

As that section approaches the end, G-d declares:

I will walk among you. I will be G-d to you, and you will be a people to Me (26:12)

The Ramban comments that G-d will deal with Israel so generously and openly that His Presence will be as obvious as that of a human king walking among his subjects. The blessings of this verse have not been completely fulfilled; in their entirety they are meant for the future.

What is the connection between 'intense Torah study' on one hand, and 'I will walk among you. I will be G-d to you, and you will be a people to Me' on the other hand?

In response, there are two ways a person connects with the Holy Tradition.

The first way is external. A person accepts that his 'long term' future depends on his conduct in this world. He or she accepts the Torah and its traditions as the Guide. The Torah is an outside structure that fashions the lifestyle. The issues may be Halachic: is the food kosher? Is X permitted on Shabbat? Is the new suit indeed free from shaatnez? (Torah-prohibited mixture of wool and linen)

They may (less traditionally) tend towards to some current socio-religious 'trends'. Is the hechsher one of those 'they' 'use'? Is the color of the new suit in line with the 'latest' chumra (stringency in observance)? As a sincere Jew, he may pore over the Halachic texts, consult rabbinic authorities, or (perhaps less spiritually healthily) 'look over the shoulder' as to what must be done to 'keep in'

The second way is internal. When you read a book you interact with the writer - through sharing the experience he committed to writing. And years of Torah study bring one in 'contact' with the Author, the Creator, and those who have made it their life's work to understand it, and live it according to its manifold traditions.

Years of positive Torah study should 'tune a person into' the Author - the Creator. The relationship is not imposed from the outside, but sparks from deep within. Living according to His guidelines gives the spiritual sensitivity to feel in tune with the commandments, and the self-fulfillment that comes with observing them. So the prospect of eating food not Halachically approved will feel wrong: create dissonance. Wearing immodest clothing is not merely 'breaking a rule' but something that the Torah-refined soul tells you is not right.

Thus G-d is brought close to His people who occupy themselves with His word. 'I will walk among you. I will be G-d to you, and you will be a people to Me': His Presence will be as obvious as that of a human king walking among his subjects'.

'All people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the G-d; and they shall be in awe of you' (Deut 28:10).

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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