Points to Ponder

Bechukosai 5776

If you walk in my Chukim (26:3) – Rashi explains that this refers to one who is Ameil – is steeped in Torah. Why does Rashi make this assumption? Why does walking refer to being steeped in Torah? Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel ztl. explained that when people are in the Beis HaMedrash all of them are assumed to be Ameil (hence, the place to bring the Yetzer HaRa is the Beis HaMedrash because there, even he looks like a Tzaddik). However, the real test of true resolve in Torah study is to be steeped in it even when walking on the road.

And I will give you your rain in its proper time and the tree of the field will give its fruit (26:4) – What is meant by YOUR rains? Are the rains OURS?  And if so, why is the fruit not ours? Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank ztl. explained that according to the Toras Kohanim if we follow the words of Hashem, then the fruit of the tree will spring forth on the day it is conceived as it did in the days of Adam. Rav Tzvi Rothberg Shlita adds that it takes man to Daven in order for there to be rain as the possuk declares “Ki lo Himteir..V’Adam Ayin Laavod Et HaAdama. The abilities of nature are not natural – they are dependent upon our appreciation of them.

 If you do not listen to me and do not follow the Mitzvos (26:14) – Rav Pinkus ztl. explains that the ensuing Tochacha is so intense because sometimes when someone loves someone else it hurts so much to see them go down the wrong path. When we sin, it brings out the ire of Hashem due to his intense love for us. The Tochacha contains within it, a subtle expression of Hashem’s intense love for us and his desire that we reciprocate that love in its intensity.

If you become disgusted in my Chukim (26:15) – Rav Chaim Kanievski Shlita explains that the Torah uses the term disgusted on purpose. He explains that there is a middle ground wherein a person does not follow the word of Hashem due to a general laxity in the observance of Mitzvos. In that situation, the punishments are more mild with a hope for a better circumstance and a return to Teshuva before the onset of the Tochacha.

Then the land will observe its Shmittas (26:33) – Rashi notes that during the 70 years of Galus Bavel the Jews were paying back for the 70 Shmittahs that they did not observe during the time of the Bayis Rishon. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky ztl. asks how it was possible that in the days of Dovid and Shlomo and Chizkiyahu Hamelech, the people did not observe Shmittah? He explains that the stories of Behar and Bechukosai are really 1 long story and the idea of Shmittah is directly connected to Ameilus B’Torah. While the Jews might have observed the prohibition against working the land during the Shmittah, they most certainly did not observe the responsibility to use the time to toil in Torah study. This was the intention of the curse. Rav Yisrael Reisman Shlita adds that this is the reason why the ensuing Galus Bavel was filled with Torah advancement that was unknown up to that point. It was an opportunity to focus on more important foci – the idea of Ameilus. Rav Reisman added that the same needs to be our focus during breaks from work and life’s responsibilities – we need to use it to be Ameilim.


And even with all this I did not become so disgusted with them to renege on my covenant with them (26:44) – In other words, there is a point that despite the fact that it seems we are unworthy, we can never be destroyed. Why? The Zohar explains that this is because Am Yisrael is the only nation that can declare Malchus Hashem as eternal in this world properly. In the same way that he is eternal, Am Yisrael needs to be as well. Rav Haim Sabato Shlita explains that a Jew will always have at his core, an understanding that Ein Od M’livado. This is the closing Nechama of Eicha – Ki Im Maos Miastanu Katzafta Aleinu – even if it appears that you are totally disgusted with us it is only your anger at how we behave but in the core, you will realize that we are your people who no matter what will always declare your Kavod over this world.

If you replace it so both the animal ad its replacement are holy (27:33) – It is assumed that whether one intended to make the Temurah or did so unintentionally, the Temurah still happens. How does that happen? Rav Schachter Shlita quoted his Rebbe Rav Soloveitchik ztl. who noted that the power of hekdesh on the second animal comes as a result of the commission of a sinful act. This is one of the paradoxes wherein the transgression provides the Kedusha.

Haftorah: Blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem and then Hashem will be his security (Yirmiyahu 17:7) – The reward for relying on Hashem is that Hashem will come to his aid. Rav Pam ztl. once noted that one of the immediate rewards that comes to a person when he places his trust in Hashem is that he can face life’s challenges with a sense of Menuchas HaNefesh which in turn enables him to weather life’s storms.