Follow the instructions or no Guarantees
Last week we completed the Book of Vayikra, which is also called “Leviticus.”
The last Portion (parsha or section) in Vayikra is Bechukosai, which contains the first “Tochecha” in the Torah, a very frightening prophetic passage that describes in detail what will befall the Children of Israel if we, G-d forbid, stray from Hashem’s commandments.
The Tokhahah, or admonition, refers to the passages of curses that Moses uttered by way of moral instruction and warning to the children of Israel. These passages occur twice in the Torah, in Parashat Behukosai (Lev. 16:14-46), and in Parashat Ki Tavo (Deut. 28:15-69).
It is important to remember that the Tochecha is preceded by a passage of tremendous blessings. We should always keep in mind that we have a choice between blessing and curse. The blessings are endless and without boundary, shining as brilliantly as the morning sun.
G-d created mankind in the Garden of Eden, and we would still be there if our first parents had not strayed from G-d’s laws. They gave away their blessings. there was one rule in the garden, and that was not to eat the fruit from a certain tree.
They violated that one rule, and the result has been death, destruction, pain, and constant suffering for mankind.
This is such a clear example for us to follow.
We read in Psalm 81, “If only My people would heed Me, If Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes and turn My hand against their tormentors… But My people did not heed My voice …”
And so, today, we live in a dark world.
The Tochecha is frightening because it is so real. IT HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED! These frightful prophecies came to pass during the destruction of the Holy Temples in Yerushalayim and they came to pass during our long Exile to the “four corners of the earth,” which culminated in the Holocaust. We have indeed gone through the fire.
But the blessings are still here. They have not gone away. They are accessible today.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about us, the Children of Israel, is that we have passed through the fire and we are still here. We have been terribly burned, and not all of us who were here are still here, but we as a nation are still here!
Our Rabbis teach us that Hashem said about the destruction of the Holy Temple: “The Holy One, Blessed is He, said ‘I lit the fire in Tzion … and I will [in the future] build it [again] with fire…”
We learn from the Tochecha that it is possible for an entire world to go up in flames, but that people of faith and trust in G-d can survive the flames, a remnant can survive.
He has sent a plague into our midst, the way He sent plagues into Ancient Egypt, and they uprooted the culture of Egypt. From there, we marched to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.
This is what we are re-enacting during Sefira and it is happening again in our world.
We have to be very strong to hold onto Torah values, to try to strengthen our bond with Hashem by keeping His Torah, because this is our lifeline, our link to Him, and THIS IS HOW WE WILL SURVIVE THE CONVULSIONS AROUND US.
What are we holding onto? The Chofetz Chaim says that, before Moshiach comes, Hashem will stretch a rope across the world and shake it violently. Our job is to “Hold On” to that rope.
“Please be revealed, and spread upon me, my Beloved, the shelter of Your peace. Illuminate the world with Your glory that we may rejoice and be glad for You.
Hasten, show love, for the time has come, and show us grace as in days of old.”
In this Parsha, G-d, the designer and manufacturer of life, world, and everything, provides us with a guarantee: live life according to my instructions and the complex machinery of life will operate optimally. If not, you take life into your hands.
Life is infinitely complex. We haven’t begun to understand even a thumbnail of its mechanics, let alone purpose. Even the great Einstein was heard to say: I feel like a small child playing with shells on the edge of a huge and vast sea
Therefore, ask yourself the following question: in my pithy 80 or 90 years of life, will I discover its secrets, its moving parts, its energy source, its original design, and purpose. Highly unlikely. So be humble. Follow the instructions.
Do you want to get to your destination? Follow the instructions. Otherwise the warranty lapses.
A Maternal Misunderstanding
Arieh and Devora, a young religious couple, were expecting their first baby. Devora went into labor on Shabbos so they had no choice but to call for a taxi to take them to the hospital. Because Arieh wanted to minimize the Shabbos violation, he told the controller that he cannot have a Jewish driver.
The taxi quickly arrived, but when Arieh and Devora were getting in, they overheard the controller on the two way radio ask the driver, “Have you picked up the anti-Semites yet?”
Now this was a joke, but actually Arieh was wrong. When there is a danger to life, we do accept a Jewish driver, because he also knows the Halacha that it is permitted to break Shabbat for Protection of life.