Posted on March 23, 2011
by Rachel Slutsky
This week’s parasha, Bechukotai, discusses keeping God’s laws, the rewards if we do so and the punishments if we refuse to do so. If we do as Hashem tells us, nature will work in our favor, yielding plentiful crops and rain, food, safety, peace and triumph over our enemies. We will multiply and the brit (covenant) will be kept. God will dwell among us in the mishkan (tabernacle). If the Israelite people choose to disobey God’s laws, we will be stricken with terror and disease, defeated by our enemies, our cities will be destroyed and we will be hated by Hashem. The parasha goes on in great detail about the extent of demise that shall be brought upon us if we are to disobey God’s commandments. It then goes
on to describe the tax that was collected to support the mishkan — either a monetary amount in shekels, or an animal sacrifice.
This parasha teaches us the important lesson that good is ultimately rewarded whereas evil is punished. This applies to every aspect of our daily lives. Though we are not usually punished as severely as the descriptions in the Torah indicate, we are always punished (in some way) for our misdeeds. For instance, Lashon Harah (literally the evil tongue) or gossip is always punishable. Though we may not realize it, what goes around comes around. If I spread a rumor about you, it’s a safe bet that there will be rumors about me coming around soon.
Another interesting thing about this parasha is that it does not specify any laws in particular, yet it is intricately specific about the rewards and punishments for our decision as to whether or not to follow them. One may take it to imply that means we must follow all the laws.
This parasha was not meant to be taken as a threat, but as a lesson. In our lives as Jews, we should keep this in mind. Even if it is impossible for us follow every single law, we still must try. If we break a law, we most likely won’t be stoned, but we should always try to act as dugma’ot (examples) for the entire community.