Bechukotai – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

We set out with good hopes and good intentions, but reality usually gets in the way.  In this week’s Sedra we have the carrot and the stick; the promised blessings and the ferocious stick of the Tochecha, the curses.

Each day we read the blessings in the Shema

If you follow my statutes and carefully obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit … I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.

But in this week’s Parasha it continues with,

But if you do not listen to Me and do not perform all these commandments

followed by a terrifying list of evils that may lie ahead.

These curses can be interpreted in a way that underlies a fundamentalist view such as poor health in a home being caused by a suspect mezuzah. It underlies the repugnant ideology that the Shoah was caused by the enlightenment and the growth of non-Orthodox Judaism.

But God does not reject us.  We read in verse 44

I will not reject them or despise them to the point of totally destroying them, breaking my covenant with them by doing so, because I am the Lord their God

We, as a people, have experienced many tragedies. We came to understand that we would not be abandoned by God even though we may not always live up to our promises. After almost two thousand years we have our land. It is not an accident that the national anthem of Israel is called Hatikvah, ‘the hope’.

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