תשע”ט פ’ בחוקתי
Volume 28, Issue 12
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
אם בחוקתי תלכו
“If you follow My decrees…” (26:3)
Rashi explains this phrase to mean to toil in Torah study. The Torah links Torah study and performance of the mitzvot because only through learning Torah can one observe the mitzvot properly. Man is constantly struggling between his body and spirit. The body is very comfortable on this earth, whereas, the soul’s origin is Heaven. While the body has an advantage over the soul, however, when people learn Torah, the soul is closer to its source and gains strength to overcome the body. There are many ways to serve G-d but the best way is to learn Torah. (Oznaim L’Torah)
G-d’s “rules” are those commandments that defy rational explanation. The word for “rule” in Hebrew is “chukah” which means engraved. When a letter is engraved onto something, the letter becomes a permanent part of it. (This is not the case when a letter is written on something, for then the letter remains a separate entity from it.) In the same way, it is by observing G-d’s “rules” that we truly unite with Him. The reason for this is because just as letters are engraved in stone by removing what was there before, observing G-d’s “rules” require us to “remove” – i.e., negate – our egos. With our egos out of the way, we can connect to G-d in the fullest way possible.
This is why G-d made His blessings dependent especially on our observance of these types of commandments. When we empty ourselves of our ego, we can view G-d’s rewards not as the motivation for complying with His will, but as intrinsic components of our relationship with Him. G-d is absolute goodness, so when we relate to Him without the interference of our egos, we can experience His goodness purely, as His self-revelation to us. (Likutei Sichot)
ונתתי גשמיכם בעתם ונתנה הארץ יבולה
“I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its produce.” (26:4)
The Torah promises that if the Jews will observe the laws of the Torah the rain will fall in its proper time, and the land will give forth its produce. One notices a difference in the language used in the verse. The fall of the rain is directly attributed to G-d – “I will provide the rains,” whereas the growth of the produce is attributed to the land – “the land will give its produce.” Why did the Torah write in such a manner?
The Gemara states that three activities remain solely in the hands of Hashem and were not given over to an intermediary. They are: granting of rain, childbirth, and the resurrection of the dead (Taanis 2a). This explains the language of the verse. The giving of rain is emphasized as being from Hashem since no intermediary is involved, as opposed to produce which has an intermediary. (R’ David Soloveitchik, quoted by Shai LeTorah)
“I will provide peace in the land…” (26:6)
This verse offers an answer to skeptics who say, “What good are promises of food and drink if there is no peace?” (Rashi). We see from this that peace is the essential supplement to all blessings; indeed, peace is always mentioned at the end of our prayers because it is the ultimate and final blessing. The appearance of the promise of peace at this point of the blessings instead of the end implies that the subsequent blessings relate to the time of Moshiach in which peace already reigns. Ramban states that this section of peace blessings refers to the future Messianic period. (Something to Say)
“And your land will not give its produce…” (26:20)
Should Bnei Yisrael not live up to the standards of the Torah, they will no longer enjoy the produce of the land. This came to pass when Bnei Yisrael went into exile 850 years after they entered the land. This is the numerical value of תתן, will give. The verse thus testifies that if the nation will not obey the commands of the Torah, the result will be לא תתן, that they will no longer enjoy what they had for 850 years. (Torah Treasures)
איש כי יפלא נדר בערכך נפשת לה’
“If a man articulates a vow to G-d regarding the valuation of living beings…” (27:2)
QUESTION: Why does the parsha of human valuations (arachin) follow the tochacha – the lifting of calamities which will happen to the Jewish people for not observing Torah and mitzvot?
ANSWER: One who reads through the tochacha may become very disillusioned. He may conclude that Jews who transgress and aggravate Hashem are indeed worthless and valueless. To negate such a thought the Torah, therefore, put the parsha of arachin immediately after the tochacha, to accentuate that regardless of a Jew’s behavior, he always has value in Hashem’s eyes. (R’ Meir Shapira of Lublin)