15 May 2015
This week’s double parasha of Behar / Bechukotai completes the Book of Leviticus. We are told repeatedly of the choice between following God’s commandments and disobeying them. With the former, we will live well; the latter leads to disaster.
Some reject the notion of cause and effect in following the commandments and their lot in life. After all, don’t “bad things happen to good people” and vice-versa? It’s interesting, however, to note that while the consequences for not following the commandments are dire, the covenant always remains intact. One commentator points out that such a caveat is repeated 5 times in the last book, as if to underscore that we can always “go home again.” The relationship is always available; but it is up to us to make it happen.
Martin Buber wrote about a Chasidic tale where Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk taught that the Ve’ahavta says, “And these words that I command you this day shall be upon your heart.” The Rabbi explained that this verse does not say “in your heart,” for there are times, Kotzk notes, when the heart is shut. But the words lie upon the heart; ready for when the heart is open and the words can truly sink deep down into it.
As always, it sounds like it’s up to us….
Ways to Make it Yours
Commemorate Jerusalem Day by honoring the fallen Ethiopian Jews who died during their mass exodus to Israel.
Learn how you can create a cultural change towards a more inclusive Jewish community.
Join other interfaith couples in DC for a family-friendly, vegetarian Shabbat experience on Friday, May 29.