Parashat Bechukotai Weekly Torah Portion
Parashat Bechukotai is divided into three parts.
- The blessings for keeping the commandments
- The curses for not keeping them
- The laws of arachim- if a person wishes to donate himself to the Temple. How much should he donate?
Our Parasha opens with the words:
אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֺתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם׃
If you walk in My laws and faithfully observe and do My commandments, (Lev 26:3)
In the Hebrew text, we see that the Torah uses 3 verbs in the first verse. Walk, Observe and Do.
We are now at the lead up to the festival of Shavuot, the festival of the giving of the Torah. Parasha Bechukotai is providing us with a framework for keeping the Torah commandments.
Imagine this scene. Your grandmother invites you into the house and presents you with a special heirloom. “This has been in our family for generations,” she says. “I now hand it over to you. Look after and care for it and when you are my age hand it over to your grandchildren.”
I assume that you will take it home. Make sure to wrap it and keep it in a safe place so that it is not damaged and then hand it over to your grandchildren, in the same condition that you have received it.
Bechukotai – The Torah Way
This, however, is not the Torah way. The same scene is played out. Our grandparents sit us down and say to us. It is time to hand over to you the values, traditions and practices of Judaism. We have faithfully kept them and guarded them and now it is your turn. The Torah demands that in order for us to guard the mitzvot. There is only one way and that is to do them,
We know the rule of “USE IT OR LOSE IT.” This is normally related to our bodies. If we do not exercise our muscles, over time we will lose the ability to use them. The same is true with our Judaism if we do not practice it constantly there is a danger that we will lose it.
What I Learned From My Siddur
Every year I am privileged, in my role as Rabbi of Masada College to present the year 2 students with their first Siddur. Parents will decorate the siddur and write beautiful messages to their children about the importance of practicing Judaism and learning to love the traditions. The look on the students faces when they receive their beautiful new siddurim is priceless.
After they receive their siddur, I show them my siddur. It is worn, the cover is sellotaped on. Some pages are missing, others have been torn. I have been using the same siddur for close on 30 years and will not change it. Why?
This siddur has been with me every day of my life for the past 30 years. From my first trip to Israel, to my yeshiva days, to my trips to Poland. Through the highs and lows, my siddur has been my constant companion. When I open it, I connect to the places that I have visited and prayed. This Siddur represents my guarding and keeping of the commandments. This well-used siddur is my most precious possession. My love is seen by the used pages.
The Torah, and Parashat Bechukotai is teaching me that the way to guard the commandments and our traditions is by doing them not by hiding them in a display cabinet. When we enjoy a Shabbat dinner, using our grandmother’s candles and grandfathers kiddish cup that is how we guard the traditions.
If you walk in My laws and faithfully observe and do My commandments then you will receive the blessings of Hashem.