Parshios Behar & Bechukosai
The Long Short Way
By Rabbi Label Lam
If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them,
then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its
produce and the tree of the field will gives its fruit. Your threshing will
last until the vintage and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will
eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in the land. I will
grant (Shalom) Peace in the land.… (Vayikra 26:3-6)
If you will follow My decrees: That you should be striving in Torah
How does “following HASHEM’s decrees” translate into “you should be striving
in Torah”? The verse seems to be more focused on the doing dimension, the
observance rather than the learning factor. Of course we could say that if
you don’t learn you cannot do but that’s way too obvious and simplistic.
Rashi decodes the message as meaning, “that you should be striving in
Torah!” That means learning!
Secondly, is the promise of peace intended as an incentive, a reward, or is
it a natural consequence? Why should striving in Torah deliver peace? What’s
Just this past Shabbos I was taking a slow paced walk home with my oldest
son and my youngest son. I began to quiz the younger fellow who is 17 years
his brother’s junior. It was a subject that unbeknownst to would be
mentioned in this week’s Daf HaYomi-Eruvin 54B. I queried, “Which is the
better way to go, “the shortcut that is a long way” or the long way which is
a shortcut”? He got the right answer- the long way which is a shortcut! Then
we began to search for practical examples of each of the two ways so we
could anchor the idea even more.
Eventually our attention turned to a primary case study that really hit
home. My wife and I often jest seriously that the best investment we ever
made was to pave a segment of our back yard and to plant a basketball hoop.
For a number of very good reasons this is so. 1) There the boys would go
daily for recreation. 2) They got plenty of practice and being good in
basketball is a big confidence booster for boys. 3) We could promise that
the action was in our back yard and we could know where our kids are. Now
our youngest son spends many good day light hours back there perfecting his
There’s one problem though. The rim has a little “give” to it- that is it’s
not firmly connected and it tends to dip to one side when the ball lands on
it. It doesn’t stop us from playing and enjoying but it is a painful
reminder of a foolish episode from some 15 years ago. When we were
installing the basket and the rim I was in a hurry to get it all cemented
and connected. It was a family event. People could wait to play (that means
me). As I was busy assembling my oldest boy was busy studying the
instruction which were spread out on the court. He was trying to slow me
down but I felt I knew better.
When everything was finally in place I proudly stepped back to admire the
fruit of all my hard work. I noticed then that amongst the small pieces
there was an “extra” nut and bolt. I wondered aloud, “What’s this thing
for?”Then my son who was still staring deeply into the instruction manual
asked me if I had done step “D” after step “C”. I had never known there was
a step “C’.Well it was all there and it looked fine. Then when we took the
first shot it was apparent that this parent had made a mistake. With
everything locked in there was no way to undo step “D” and go back to step “C”.
That extra nut was no vestigial piece of hardware. We have lived ever since
with the imperfection of that shaky rim and it serves as a perfect example
of the shortcut that turned out to be a long way. I should have taken the
time to study the manual of instructions.
The Torah is a Divine instruction manual. We are cautioned; If you study it
intently and build your life decisions according to the details of its
dictates then the peace that follows is a consequence of having traveled
the long short way.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.