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Parashat Bechukotai

Leilui Nishmat Halfon and Rose Cabasso A’h

Parashat Bechukotai

All the parashiyot in Vayikra up until now were a preface of how we should live our lives as the one and only chosen nation of G-D. How we must treat each other with respect and how we must stay far away from the immoral acts of the other nations because we were chosen to be a holy nation to Hashem!

Hashem’s Good Advice...

The first pasuk in this weeks parasha begins, "If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them". This pasuk seems a little redundant because it repeats itself three times. "follow My decrees" then "observe my commandments" finally "and perform them". Rashi explains on this that the pasuk is talking about toiling in Torah study. We must know that the study of the Torah is the essence of a Jew and its what separates us from all the other nations of the world. That pasuk is a hint that we must learn Torah and review our learning over and over again until we own it. The toiling in Torah is the highest level of what a Jew must do in this world and we should be involved in the Torah learning day and night as its mentioned in the Shema Yisrael that we read three times a day!

The Ohr HACHAIM Hakadosh wrote 48 different chidushiim on Bechokoti and toiling in Torah. One of them is "Bechokoti Telechu" which he says is to go into great depths of learning and to sink your teeth into your learning not just a superficial review, weather it be in gemarah, chumash, mishnah, or navie.

Follow Your Instincts

From Rabbi Avraham Bukspan’s book “Classics and Beyond” he says on this first passuk, that the Midrash (Yayikra Rabbah 35:1) quotes a pasuk in Tehillim (119:59), “Chishavti derachai va’ashivah raglai el eidosecha – I considered my ways and returned my feet to Your testimonies.” David HaMelech said, “Ribbono shel Olam, every day I would plan to go to a particular place or a certain building and my feet would take me to the houses of prayer and study.”

The Ktav Sofer on the Chumash quotes an alternative text, where David HaMelech specified that he planned on visiting theaters, and instead ended up in the beit midrash. Why would David HaMelech be interested in going to the theater, if venues such as theaters and circuses are forbidden by Chazal (Avodah Zarah 18b)?

The Gemara (Megillah 6a) quotes a pasuk from Zechariah (9:7), “Ve’hayah ke’aluf biYehudah ve’Ekron ki’Yevusi – He will be like the master in Yehudah, and Ekron will be like the Yevusi,” and says that this is referring to the theaters and circuses of Edom. In the future, the high officers of Yehudah will teach Torah publicly in these places.

Did The Goyim Do Anything For Us?

The Ktav Sofer questions why we would be learning Torah in their stadiums and arenas; wouldn’t we have our own venues where could teach Torah? He brings the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 2b), which says that in the future Hashem will say to the goyim, “With what did you occupy yourselves?” They will reply, “We set up marketplaces and bathhouses and amassed gold and silver. And we did it all so the Jews could occupy themselves with Torah – so they can acquire items easily in the marketplace and they can beautify themselves in the bathhouses.” Hashem will respond, “You did all of that only for your own benefit!”

In truth, the evil actions of the goyim can be utilized for good, as well. Someone who fears Hashem can learn to rush to do mitzvot from the goyim who rush to do what they do. They expend so much energy as they rush to sin which adds to the shortcomings of this world. How much more so should we rush to do mitzvot and not be concerned with the expenses and inconveniences involved.

Based on this concept, the Ktav Sofer brings the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Koheles 971) on the pasuk (Kohelet 5:9) “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money.” The Midrash expounds, “A lover of mitzvot will not be satisfied with Mitzvot.” The Ktav Sofer explains that the Midrash is also teaching us that we can learn to channel the good from sinners’ various actions or traits. In the case of silver, which has a finite value, Kohelet tells us that one who loves silver will have a drive and desire for more, and he will never be satisfied with what he has. The Midrash is teaching us that we can direct that same drive – to want more and more.

Hashem’s Beracha!

The next pasuk goes on to describe all the good that Hashem will bestow upon us if we follow His decrees and observe His commandments in order to perform them! Hashem says, He will give us our parnasah by giving us the rains in the right times so that the land will give its produce and the trees of the field will give its fruit. What Hashem is saying to us simply in these pesukiim, is that if we would just learn Torah so that we may understand what's required of us in this world. Follow Hashems decrees, commandments and ordinances, then we will have a good livelihood, we'll have beracha with our family's and we will be protected from our enemies. This is everything a nation would want to have to prosper and grow. So shouldn’t we just follow what these peukiim are telling us and do as the Torah says? After all, it’s for our own benefit!

How can we ignore Hashems instructions and instead follow the pesukiim that begins with pasuk 14 that says, "But if you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments and if you consider My decrees loathsome and reject My ordinances in order to annul My covenant". Then Hashem says He will put panic in our hearts and turn His back against us. We won't have beracha in our livelihood and we will work just so we can see our laboring go in vain. We will watch our enemy's be successful against us as Hashem won't be there to protect us. Eventually we will be sick to our stomachs and despise the Rabbi's and every aspect that reminds us of learning Torah which will lead us down a very steep downward spiral.

Praise To Our Rabbi’s

From reading this parasha, we can now have a greater respect for all the Rabbi's and talmidei chachamim because they made a decision to sit down and learn in order to devote their lives to learning and teaching Torah to all of us. If we would read this parasha with an open heart it will be obvious to us that Hashem through the Torah is helping us to realize what's best for us. We can see from the words in this parasha what will truly make us happy, healthy, content and satiated with everything so that we may live a life of growth in learning Torah. This of course is the essence of what a Jew in this world is all about in order for us to earn the highest levels of Olam Habah!

Hashem wants us to learn every day but we're not expected to become Rabbi's, that's reserved for a select few. Many years ago our synagogue's were used primarily for prayer and the doors of our Shuls were all shut at night. Through the great Rabbi's of our community since we settled on the shores of America over 100 years ago until today, our community has changed drastically for the better. Our Shuls are opened from very early in the morning and again until late at night and they are overflowing with men and women learning and growing in Torah. There's a great thirst today for Torah as we see in recent weeks the popularity of Chavrutah Night in many of our shuls and we have to know that this has brought and continues to bring tremendous beracha to our community.

As Long As The Candle Still Burns...

The pasuk in (Iyov 5:7) says– For man is born to weariness. Naturally, we love rest and relaxation. We look forward to taking it easy. Our real job here, however, is to work. Very often, when we are pressed, it brings out the best in us. Each day of life provides countless opportunities for growth. A person can still flourish even at an advanced old age.

Rav Yisrael Salanter passed the home of a cobbler late one night and he noticed through the window that the candle was still lit and the cobbler was diligently working. Intrigued that a shoemaker would still be toiling late at night, Rav Salanter knocked on the door and asked him why he was working at that late hour. “As long as the candle is still burning,” the cobbler replied, “there’s still time to make repairs.”

Hearing these words from the shoemaker filled the Rabbi with excitement. The human soul is compared to a candle, he thought. And as the shoemaker taught, as long as the light still burns, as long as a person still has life, he can still make repairs and improve himself.

There's a famous story that was told over by Rabbi Frand at the last Siyum Hashas at Met life stadium 7 years ago, about a man who never learned Torah. His son on the other hand became a baal teshubah and grew to become a Talmid Chacham. After many years the father approached his son and asked him if he can learn with him because he said that he see's the enjoyment that his son gets from his learning Torah. Of course the son agreed and they began learning one page of Gemarah. They reviewed that page many, many times without moving forward. The father owned that page of Gemarah because he really toiled in it until he knew it by heart. He was so elated by his accomplishment that he decided to made a siyum on that one page of Gemarah. Rabbi Frand continued that unfortunately not long after that, the father had passed away suddenly. It was said over at the mitzvah that in Hashem's eyes completing that one page of gemarah for this man was considered in heaven as if he had mastered all of Shas!

May we always continue to learn Torah and make it a priority of our days and nights. May we also have the greatest respect for our Rabbis who devote themselves to studying and teaching Torah selflessly to our community for our benefit. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Leiluiy Nishmat....

Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah

Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam

Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal

Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal

Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther

Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal

Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal

Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami

Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael

Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel

Yaakov Ben Leah Saadia Ben Miriam

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

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