Parashat Bechukotai: A Summary
The Torah portion sets forth the blessings that you will see in this world in response to your deeds.
It then continues with the Tochachah, words of admonition, “If you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments…” There are seven series of seven punishments each. Understand that G-d does not punish for punishment’s sake; He wants to get our attention so that we will introspect, recognize our errors and correct our ways. G-d does not wish to destroy us and will never annul His covenant with us. This is the Almighty’s guarantee to the Jewish people: ” … I will not grow so disgusted with them nor so tired of them that I would destroy them and break My covenant with them, since I am the Lord their G-d.” (Deut. 26:44-45) He wants to prevent us from becoming so assimilated that we disappear as a nation. I highly recommend reading Leviticus 26:14-45.
Many religions place their basis of faith in faraway promises. The Talmud teaches, “He who wishes to lie says his witnesses are far away.” For example, “I have witnesses that I paid back the money I owed you, but they happen to be visiting Europe” — or “Have faith in our religion and you will get Heaven.”
While Judaism believes in an Afterlife, a World to Come, the Torah makes no promises that are “far away.” It makes definitive statements of consequences in this world. This week’s portion says, “If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them; then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit. Your threshing will last until the vintage, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in your land. I will provide peace in the land, and you will lie down with none to frighten you … I will make you fruitful and increase you…”
The portion ends with instructions regarding gifts to the temple, valuation and redemption of animals, houses, fields … and lastly, the second tithe and tithing animals. And thus ends the Book of Leviticus!