18 May 2017
This week’s double parasha, Behar-Bechukotai, finishes up the Book of Leviticus. We are told repeatedly of the choice between following God’s commandments and disobeying. With the former, we will live well; the latter choice will lead 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 five times in the last book, as if to underscore that we can always “go home again.” The relationship is always available; we just have to make it happen.
Martin Buber wrote about a Chasidic tale, telling us that Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk taught, concerning the Ve’ahavta, “And these words that I command you this day shall be upon your heart.” The 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 opens in holy hours and the words can sink deep down into it.
As always, it sounds like it’s up to us….