Parshios Behar & Bechukosai
One - and Only - One
This week's parsha begins outlining the idyllic blessings that await us if
we live up to our covenant with Hashem and are worthy of a close
relationship with Him. The material blessings of bountiful crops, luscious
harvests, peace and security in the land and the ability to repel our
enemies, are augmented with the spiritual blessings in which Hashem promises
us (chapter 26 verse 11) "I will place my sanctuary among you and my spirit
will not reject you."
The commentaries are perplexed by the blessing that Hashem will not reject
His people. Surely if we are obeying G-d's will, what possible reason could
there be for Him to reject us?
In response to this question, the commentaries cite the truth about human
nature that 'familiarity breeds contempt.' Perhaps being so close to Hashem
carries with it the liability that Hashem sees our shortcomings and foibles
in a magnified way, and may come to repel us. In any deeply developed
relationship there lurks a fear that perhaps we should not be totally open
with our counterpart; for if they discover our hidden weaknesses and
imperfections, they may reject us.
Hashem reassures us that he will never reject us even though we will be far
In the blessings that we give to a chosson and kallah we delineate four
levels of friendship and closeness, exhorting the chosson and kallah to rise
to the highest level possible. We talk about ahava (love) achvah
(brotherhood) shalom (peace), and rayus (total bonding). The highest level
of friendship surpasses even a blood relationship such as brotherhood. It is
even higher that a relationship where peace unites people. This kind of
kinship is defined by the word rayus. What is rayus and why is it a more
rarified expression of closeness than all other forms of friendship?
The commentaries explain that the word rayus is connected to "rah," meaning
evil, which only compounds the mystery. If this is the most valuable
friendship of all, why is rooted in the word rah-- evil?
The answer, I believe, lies in a deeper understanding of the highest form of
interpersonal relationship. There is a human tendency to cultivate a façade
around oneself to promote a flattering self-image and stave off criticism.
Even with our closest friends we are sometimes loathe to share our darkest
secrets, lest they would no longer respect us and want to remain on the same
terms as before.
The word "rayus" is connected to the word "poruah" which means being totally
open, to the point where we can even reveal the "rah"-the unsavory aspects
of our inner self. We do not have to fear rejection for the relationship is
marked by unconditional acceptance and love. Thus the word "rayus" connotes
the highest level of friendship and closeness imaginable.
It is for this reason that the word "raya" -meaning friend-is found for the
first time in the Torah in connection with Raiyai Ho'adulami, Yehudah's
confidant to whom he revealed his illicit encounter with Tamar and asked
Raiyai Ho'adulami to resolve his outstanding debt to her. A true friend is
one in whom we can confide without any reservations.
Thus the ultimate relationship we have with Hashem is one in which we are
secure, even while acknowledging our shortcomings, that we are beloved and
accepted by Hashem unconditionally-in return for our own unconditional
acceptance and devotion to Him.
Hashem assures us, "v'lo sigal nafshi eschem," my spirit will never revile
you. It will never reject you and it will never repel you, for under all
circumstances, you and I are one.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Naftali Reich
Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Torah.org.
Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.