Parasha Bechukotai- 5776
We reach the end of the amazing experience of learning Vayikra (Leviticus), looking forward with anticipation to learning Bemidbar ( Numbers). This parasha is a summary of the content bequeathed to the Children of Israel and all those who would attach themselves to the Covenant keeping God of Abraham. Yes for all those who presume that the Ten utterances (known as the ten commandments) in and of themselves were the high water mark and prized inculcation to be gleaned from Mount Sinai, the concluding verse of Vayikra would indicate otherwise.
Vayikra 27;34 34 These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the sons of Israel at Mount Sinai.
I John 3;1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…
We could conclude that to truly know what His commandments are comprised of one would feel honored, as we have been, to engage in the study of the book of Leviticus. The heart of the Torah, the book of Priests teaches us the extension and application of what we know as the ten words. IF we consider ourselves sons of the Most High these chapters are our endowment. These are what came down from heaven as a prized possession directly from the Most High.
The first verse of Parasha Bechukotai:
אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָֽם׃
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them… (Vayikra 26;3)
Em (eem) – if…. can be taught as a plea, Hashem asks….”if you would please”, ” if only” you would…
Bechukotai-in my statutes…. from חֻקָּה -Chukah – that which is established or defined; law, practice, custom; RIGHT; PRIVILEGE. Related to חֹק- Chok- an ordinance, decree; a defined limit, bound; that which is established- definite; an appointed portion!
From the root- חָקַק- Chakak – to carve out, to ENGRAVE, determine, appoint, ordain, decree.
Teleku -to walk in…. יָלַךְ – yalak – to go, to walk. Similar to Halak- הָלַךְ- to walk, to live, to follow, to flow (as water) to be poured out.
וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָֽם Va’aisitem otam – to DO THEM…. עָשָׂה -asah- to produce, to create, to prepare, to MAKE READY, to OFFER, to do, to effect, to execute, to complete.
Magnificent. Astounding. THIS is one of innumerable examples of why the Torah of Hashem is, as David Ha Melech (King David) proclaimed: “perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” [Psalm 19]
From one single Torah verse we can obtain the heart of what seems to be a plea from Hashem to His people. If only His sons would walk, to the point of being poured out completely in following His appointed portion for them. These rights and privileges….PRIVILEGES are the offering back to Him, our observance of His commandments. Making His Way ready by executing His righteous methods and examples.
This is the heritage of the Sons of God. As they walk in them there is a path trodden, a direction that can be followed after by their own children and anyone else who sees the light in that Way. One who is consumed with HaShem comes to the point where He is engraved, permanently etched into his every single day, every moment, every interaction. This is the reality, if only each being could surrender to what already IS- God’s total omnipresence in every aspect of Creation, life, death, delight and sorrow. Bechukotai is the acceptance and uptake of a precious right which was and is and will be all along… Hashem and His righteousness, His design, His unchanging truth. Amazing insights from a single Torah verse.
This Parasha is filled with incredible promises of blessings and some of the most terrifying consequences and curses one could imagine.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 26; 15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
Ma’as – מָאַס- to despise; to be averted; impious; contemptuous.
Ga’al- גָּעַל – to be cast away; to reject with loathing.
Parar – פָּרַר- to break; to make void; to make nothing; to take away; to divide.
The qualities mentioned above are lain out by Hashem as the very modes which will result in His punishment. Acknowledging that this author has many attributes to refine and sins to come to terms with, and is not better than anyone else nor am I anyone’s judge, I submit that these qualities bring my mind to the very mentality of the inclination of the ‘church’ today . There is a certain aversion to the Torah and the idea that keeping God’s commandments have a place in our lives as believers “free” by the grace of Yeshua. There is certainly a rejection of the Torah as a valid, living and active ingredient in our faith. Surely for centuries there has been a breaking away from the Jewish roots of our faith and a nullification of the promises to the Jewish people and Israel via the lie that is replacement theology.
Romans 3; 31Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? By no means! Instead, we uphold Law.
The distortion and fallacy that Yeshua nailed the burdensome, unattainable Torah to the cross when it really was our condemnation to be slaves to sin and death that He drove into oblivion (at least picturing the perfect rectification which is to come) when he rose again. Furthermore, translators have cut up and divided the Torah which was never meant to be put into chapters (determined by men often without the realization how certain sections were meant to be connected to one another and read together). Ironically that slip of paper in the middle of most bibles which indicates a “division” between the so called “Old Testament” and the “New Testament” is a transgression of the Spirit of a Book which was always meant to be united- functioning in harmony versus misconstruing more fallacy and portraying two natures of a singular God (old- harsh- judgment, new- loving- gracious). That slip of paper should never have been put there.
Tehillim (Psalms) 189; 30 “If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, 31 If they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments, 32 Then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. 33 “But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness. 34 “My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
In order to excuse oneself from the obligation and responsibility of keeping (guarding with awe and respect) the commandments of Hashem I have had this verse cherry picked and thrown in the midst of presupposed arguments against the validity of Torah commandments for believers in Yeshua:
Vayikra (Leviticus) 26; 15….but that ye break my covenant.
“See, the covenants can be broken!” Is the submission. If you take a look a little further you will see that it is man who violates covenant, “breaking” them. Not God. On God’s end- Covenants are made to function one with another and He does not annul or break them.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 26; 44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 26; 21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
k’ri (k-ree) קְרִי – a hostile encounter; oppose, resist. From the root Karah – קָרָה – to meet in a hostile sense; to be made to meet; to make opportune.
When studying the Torah, a great way to find what is “hidden in plain sight” is to look at the Hebrew. Look at the root words and their meaning. Look at the occurances (context) of the words and when you find something that is rarely used or found in a connected strand or theme…it can be incredibly enlightening but at the very least (perhaps most importantly) this form of study can heighten one’s sense of awe! This word K’ri is occurs only in our portion of text. First in 26;21 (as well as 23,24,27, 28, 40) and lastly in 41. That is it. Only in our Torah text ending
Vayikra with these chilling warnings. In this case God is repeating over and over that what causes one to sin is opposing and resisting His righteous commandments- forcing an encounter with God in a negative sense.
Bechukotai continues with a series of punishments caused by man’s rejection of Hashem and His commandments. There is a progression in the text and the horrifying series includes plague, famine, lack of water ( and thus the demise of crops and livestock), terror, enemies attacking, and even cannibalism. One can visualize a general hysteria and desperation due to the lack of security and of course extreme hunger. The entire purpose of these consequence is that man would repent and come back to Hashem and fall into His path and His provision and protection.
Vayikra 26;23 And if ye will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me…
Yasar- יָסַר – to correct, admonish, exhort, to dissuade from, to instruct, to teach, to receive discipline.
These consequences come as a result of a degeneration, and rejection of the very mode for improvement and rehabilitation unto God’s sons. These plagues are not pointed at some strangers or trouble makers in their midst, He is speaking to His own. The verses below express God’s tender and explicit REASONS for the disciplining. It is out of love and a desire to be loved, it is out of the closeness He desires to have with his ‘kids’ and to have them succeed and be blessed by Him.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8; 1 “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. 2 You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.
When we repeat something to our children, what is it for? Emphasis! To ensure that they received the information, with a bigger hope that they will apply it having been told it in repetition. So too with warnings. So to within this portion of Torah.
I have seen the word K’ri that we looked at- can also be translated as “casualness”. Bechukotai warns us not to become casual in our approach to faith, in approaching God.
As we approach the Wilderness- Bemidbar, the book of Numbers let us consider a few things. First, why did Hashem choose to give His Torah on Har Sinai (Mount Sinai sometimes called Horeb)? If the Torah was explicitly for the Jews alone it would have made more sense that it come down on Moriah in Jerusalem or anywhere in eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) for that matter. The Torah of Hashem was bestowed upon all humanity, the Torah of Hashem is relevant to every man (a fact which is still true today therefore it came down in a “no man’s land” in the middle of the desert, in a place where there was a mixed multitude assembled and no one held claim to anything else aside from their own free will and choice.
Secondly, Hashem desires for each man to “want” His Torah. In finding one’s mission and place in this world….in figuring out what really counts and why each one of us is here, I submit that in the search for these answers there is an inclusive necessity to understand that there is role and purpose for each one of us that no other person can do. Somewhere in the Torah text as the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) shows us, year after year the path to connection with our mission and its designer and assignee….we will find out why God “needs” us to want His Torah. This thought has personally been revolutionary for this author. Year after year in my own journey I have prayed for the light of the Torah to glimmer into the hearts of the people I know and love. I realize now that if any one “does not want” the Torah, they are not meant to pursue it and thus have opted out of the (readily available) acquisition of its treasure.
After all is said and done in the end, every eye will see His righteousness and Glory….the Torah will go forth as it has since creation, to the ends of earth…and everything will become clear. Until then I do pray that this time in the wilderness- filled with the most amazing challenges and chances, beautiful commandments and reiterations is a blessing to you and that you do find (that we all find) out why we are out here and pursue our purpose for His praise!
ADONAI- I thank You for this season and for chances to dive into Your Torah and how life giving each word truly is. How difficult it is to be negative, hopeless, cold when one reaches inside oneself while reading inside Your heart. I pray that someone somewhere gleans something of value from this short exposition and is blessed and inspired as I am. You never disappoint! Thank You for giving me a reason to look forward to Shavuot and to understand the in some small tiny part- the significance of Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah)…to enter Bemidbar now- understanding that I do count, I count only because You have something specific to my life to fulfill through my life. That gives me reason, that gives me purpose and I worship You for illuminating it!
Baruch attah ADONAI Eloheinu Melech HaOlam- Blessed are You Lord my God King of the Universe
Sources: Chana Weisburg -Chabad.org, Sholomo Katz- sassvideo.com