Bechukotai

The Parshah starts off relating how Hashem would bless the world if the Jews were to study and fulfil the requirements of the Torah. Interestingly, whenever the Jews have immersed themselves in keeping the Torah totally, they have been sorted out properly in all areas by Hashem. In the wilderness, the heavenly bread rained down for them in the merit of Torah; Joshua’s generation studied Torah, they were provided well and also during the era of King Chizkiyahu, he enforced nationwide Torah study by planting a sword in front of every Study Hall and proclaimed that any Jew who refused to learn Torah would deserve execution (Sanhedrin 94b), it was during his era, where Hashem blessed the Jews!!

Full of blessings are brought about in merit of learning Torah! In the book of Tehillim (Psalms) King David stated, ‘when I contemplated my ways, I turned my feet to your testimonies, (Tehillim 119:59)’ implying his feet Always took him to the Torah study hall.

Many Blessings are mentioned in the parshah; the blessing of fruit producing rain at convenient times (Vayikra 26:4), the blessing that soil and trees will be productive like in Adam’s time, blessing of abundance in all good areas (Vayikra 26:5), blessing of peace, miraculous victories, happy family life, improvements in harvesting and it stresses that Hashem's presence will dwell in our midst (Vayikra 26:3-13). In the book of Yeshayahu, a verse states, ‘the glory of Hashem shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. (Isaiah 40:5).’

The parshah then relates the various curses that could occur if the Jews do not heed and keep to the Torah. Curses are pronounced in this week’s parshah in sets of seven. The curses include, fatal sickness, being defeated by enemies and it mentions the breaking of the pride of the Jewish people’s power (Vayikra 26:14-43). In the book of Yechezkel a verse states in regards to the laying waste of the Temple which is ‘the pride of your power (Ezekiel 24:21).’

More curses are then poured out, including how there would be no produce due to drought. The verse in this week’s parshah states ‘I will make your heaven like iron and your earth like copper (Vayikra 26:19).’

The parshah then relates the curse of the harm that could be inflicted by animals, the potential of sieges by the enemy, leading to death and hunger. The Parshah warns about the destruction of high places and Jews falling dead upon their idols. Then we see a warning on how the Temple and the land would become desolate, this was fulfilled towards the end of the First Temple era. Then we learn of the curse that exile could be the punishment in retribution for neglecting observance of the Sh’mitta years (Sabbatical) (Vayikra 26:34) and idol worship .

After a long list of curses, Hashem gives us an assurance of comfort for our time if the Torah is kept (Vayikra 26:44-46). This teaches us how important Torah learning actually is!! The world stands on three things, Torah, Prayer and acts of kindness. Thier is great reward for honoring the Torah (Shabbat 119a) and furthermore the Torah gives honor to those who study it (Eruvin 54b).

Many of the great Torah scholars actually proved to be the salvation of the Jewish people, including, Moshe, Aharon, Mordechai (in Megilla Esther), Shimon Haatzadik, Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai (during the end of Second Temple era, preserving the academy of Torah in Yavneh (Gittin 56b)), Matityahu and his sons – the Chashmonaim – who waged war against the Greeks, during the Chanukah era (Shabbat 21b).

The Parshah then relates the laws of donating the value of a person to the Temple (Vayikra 27:1-8). In the book of Shoftim, we learn that the Judge Yiftach, who was deficient in Torah knowledge, made a vow to sacrifice the first thing he saw after a war against Ammon (Judges 11:31), his daughter greeted him, and he in turn sacrificed his daughter (Judges 11:39), as she was the first he saw after the war, he definatly did not have to sacrifice her – he should have just donated her value to the Temple instead, in turn potentially keeping her alive (Taanit 4a).

The Parshah concludes relating additional laws concerning donations to Hashem and how a Jew who owns animals is obligated to bring as a sacrifice every tenth newborn which is unblemished (Vayikra 27:32).

The Haftorah for the second parshah running comes from the book of Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu), this time featuring chapters 16 and 17 of Jeremiah. Jeremiah gives a message that if the Jewish people are devoted to Torah, they will enjoy prosperity and blessing. If they forsake the Torah, they would suffer poverty and curse.