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Vol. 20 Issue #22 Parshas Bechukosei


Torah: Pre-Requisite for Blessing

Yisrael Friedenberg
(YUHSB 15)
Parashas Bechukosai begins with a discussion of
the berachos that are guaranteed to the Jewish people
on the condition that they follow the instructions of
God. The blessings begin with the promise that we
will be given good rain in its proper time. Immediately
following this blessing is one of bountiful crops.
The Ramban (on Vayikra 26:4) says that the
reason rain is designated as the first blessing is because
it is more important than any of the blessings that
follow it. When there is enough rain the plants can
grow and produce good crops. Furthermore, when
there is enough rain everyone will be healthy, and the
food will be healthy, and the animals will be healthy.
This is why rain is first, because it is the most
fundamental of the blessings.
Let us now investigate why it is that rain is the
specific reward that we are promised. The opening
words of the parasha are:
.

If you walk in My statutes, and keep My
commandments, and do them; then I will give your
rains in their proper time, and the land shall yield her
produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their
fruit. (Leviticus 26:1) Rashi comments on the
opening words, im Bechukosai teileichu (ibid), that
they are, in fact, referring specifically to toil in Torah
study. The way to achieve all of the wonderful
blessings we are being told about is through this
particular pursuit.
Chazal frequently compare Torah to water,
one prominent example of which appears in maseches
Taanis (7a). Perhaps this explains the connection

Vol. 20 Issue #22

27 Iyar 5776

between the aforementioned action, Torah study, and


the reward it yields. By engrossing ourselves in Torah,
something which is, itself, symbolized by water, we
will be granted rain.
The Toras Kohanim (quoted in the Torah
Temima on Vayikra 26:4) adds a comment on the
words venasati geshmeichem beitam, then I will give
your rains in their proper time: (Vayikra 26:4) God
is saying that He will give us rain, whereas He will not
grant it to the other nations of the world. We are
deserving of these unique blessings because we are the
ones who keep His Torah. Thus it would seem that the
connection is correct Torah study is the direct way
we earn Gods gift of plentiful and timely rain. There
remains, though, another part of the blessing found in
this passuk; we are told that, in addition to rain, we will
receive abundance from our crops. The passuk, in
describing this second part of the blessing, employs the
phrase veeits hasadeh yitein piryo, and the trees of the
field shall yield their fruit. (ibid) Perhaps here too, we
can find a common thread that continues from the
message of the prior blessing.
King Shlomo, in Mishlei (3:18), famously says,
referring to the Torah:

It is a tree of life for those who grasp it. Let
us note carefully Shlomos expression. The same
word, eits is used both by Shlomo, in reference to the
Torah, and in what God tells us will be the source of
our blessing. The blessing we are guaranteed is to
emanate from an eits. Here, yet again, there is a
connection between Torah study and the resulting
rewards the God will grant us.
We can see the importance of learning Torah
from these opening pesukim. By furthering our efforts
in our Torah learning we will reap the countless
rewards that will follow. But we must also take note

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of another crucial lesson that we see in the explanation


of the Toras Kohanim. What separates the Jewish
people from the rest of the world is our care for the
word of God, and thus we, alone, are to receive great
reward. May we all be able to obtain that level of care
showcased in these pesukim and witness the coming of
mashiach.

A Third Equals Half?

Rafi Felder (17)


This weeks sedrah of Bechukosai begins with
an interesting phrase:

if you follow My statutes and observe My
commandments and perform them. (Leviticus 26:1)
Additionally, in parashas Vaeschanan, the passuk says

and you shall observe and perform them
(Deuteronomy 4:6)
Immediately, the Shem Mishemuel uses this
string of pessukim to bring out a beautiful idea. Firstly,
im Bechukosai teileikhu, if you will follow my laws,
(Leviticus 26:1) he understands according to Rashi,
effectively translating to mean toiling and struggling in
the everlasting journey of Torah-learning. Next, vees
mitsvosai tishmiru, and if you guard my
commandments, (ibid) is representative of our goal
to attain Torah-knowledge. Finally, says the Shem
Mishemuel quoting Rashi, ushmartem vaasisem, and
you shall observe and perform them
(Deuteronomy 4:6) refers to the study of the Mishnah,
which can be learned to mean the performance of
Torah-ideas and ideals. However, the Shem
Mishemuel continues: if, for some reason, a person has
Torah-knowledge and acts in the way the Torah
desires, but he is not ameil baTorah, he has not
accomplished a state of sheleimus, a state of wholeness
in his service of God; if a Jew fulfills the first two of
the three aspects of avodas Hashem, but ignores being
ameil in the Torah, his service which is characterized
and fulfilled through the three mediums of guf, nefesh
and seikheil, or body, soul and mind is lacking.

Vol. 20 Issue #22

How is this possible to understand? How can


the Shem Mishemuel say that if one leaves out a
seemingly
unimportant
aspect of his avodas Hashem,
his
commitment
to
Hakadosh Baruch Hu is
deficient? According to the
Shem Mishemuel, yedius
baTorah, knowledge in
Torah corresponds to, and
is mesakein a persons
seikheil. Similarly, learning
Mishnah, or, as we
previously explained, the
performance of mitsvos is
tied to and is mesakein ones
guf, ones physical body.
Finally, ameilus baTorah is
mesakein for ones nefesh.
Therefore, when one leaves
out this final component, a
full third of his avodas
Hashem
is
missing!
Furthermore, if one grossly characterizes avodas
Hashem into two categories the spiritual and
emotional service, and the physical and purely
intellectual service one could even say that with the
dropping of ameilus, the spiritual aspect, one forfeits a
full half of his capabilities and responsibilities towards
God!
With this in mind, we see the crucial
importance of maintaining a well-rounded,
comprehensive obligation toward Hashem. It is
incumbent upon us to cull from all our resources, with
the highest goal and purpose in mind: to serve Hashem
in the best way we can. May we be zocheh to
incorporate both the physical, seemingly practical
aspects and the spiritual, emotional facets of our
personalities and abilities, into our avodas Hashem.