Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Bechukosai

Realities of Life

This weekís parsha which concludes the book of Vayikra deals with the realities of Jewish national and personal life. On one hand it describes in rapturous terms the blessings of happiness, security and serenity that can happen to the Jewish people and to the individual Jew. But on the other hand it vividly and graphically describes death, exile, troubles and tragedy.

Jewish history bears out the accuracy of both visions. We have lived through both experiences. Jewish history seems to have contained much longer periods of darkness than of light, of more tragedy than of joy and serenity. Though the Torah assigns observance of the commandments as the prime cause of security in Jewish life and non-observance of the same as the cause of tragedy, history and the great commentators to Torah seem to modify this cut and dried axiom.

Godís wisdom and judgments are inscrutable and are beyond even elementary comprehension by us mortals. As such we are left wondering as to the tragedies that descended upon the Jewish people and that continue to plague us today. Though there are those amongst us that are prepared to give and accept glib answers to the causes of tragedy, the wise men of Israel warned us against such an approach. Observance of commandments is enormously difficult to fulfill completely and accurately.

As such it is difficult to measure the "why" part of this week's parsha. It is sufficient to note the "how it happened" part to realize that its message of contrasting periods of serenity and tragedy has been painstakingly accurate and contains not one word of hyperbole. The destruction of the Temples, the Crusades and pogroms, the Inquisition and the Holocaust are all graphically described in this week's parsha. Such is the prophetic power of the Torah.

In personal life, the longer one lives the more likely tragedy will somehow visit them. The Torah makes provision for this eventuality in its laws of mourning. We all hope for lives of goodness, pleasantness and secure serenity. Yet almost inexorably problems, disappointments and even tragedy intrudes on our condition.

In Vayikra, the death of the sons of Aharon remains the prime example of tragedy suddenly destroying a scene of pride, satisfaction and seeming accomplishment. In this week's parsha the description of the punishment of Israel for its backsliding comes after a background of blessings and security. The past century presented the Jewish people with horrors of unimaginable intensity and of millennial accomplishments. The situation of extreme flux in our national life has continued throughout the sixty years of the existence of the State of Israel.

The unexpected and sudden, but apparently regular change of circumstances in national Jewish life mirrors the same situation so recognizable to us from our personal lives. We are constantly blindsided by untoward and tragic events. So, the jarring contrast that the two main subjects of the parsha present to us are really a candid description of life and its omnipresent contradictions, surprises and difficulties. Though we pray regularly for health and serenity, we must always be cognizant of how precarious situations truly are. Thus, as we rise to hear the conclusion of the book of Vayikra we recite the mantra of "chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek" - let us be doubly strong and strengthen others! So may it be.

Shabat shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 

ARTICLES ON KI SISA AND PURIM:

View Complete List

Heads Up!
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Walking in the Garden
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Our Whole Selves
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

How Could They?
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

Of Hands and Feet
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

The Wanderer
Shlomo Katz - 5769

ArtScroll

A Father
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

When Dignity Really Counts
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Tipping the Scales
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Shabbos - Being Prepared
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Searching for Haman
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

We Donít Know!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

> The Soul of Prayer
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

The Reality of the Day
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Sweet Smell of Success
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

You Can Do It!
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information