Behar-Bechukosai 5780

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s Parsha is Parshas Behar-Bechukosai, another double parsha and the last parsha in Sefer Vayikra.

In the second parsha, there are various brochos and curses given, based upon the condition of Klal Yisroel serving Hashem. The brochos will come to us if we fulfill the mitzvos Hashem gives us in the Torah, and the curses if we do not, chas v’sholom. An interesting phrase used in relation to the curses is ואם-תלכו קרי. There are two different ways of understanding this: the first p’shat according to Rashi is that this refers to serving Hashem as a sort of “chance” thing, meaning that it’s not established and one just engages in avodas Hashem as it kind of happens. The second p’shat is according to Onkelos, who translates the word קרי as קשי, which means “difficulty” in Aramaic. According to Onkelos, then we can see that this p’shat goes in line with the other curses given for not following Hashem’s ratzon בשמחה ובטוב לבב, with gladness and good heart. The p’shat according to Rashi requires a little more to understand properly, in line with Onkelos.

The form of avodah as described by Rashi is the avodah that would most likely sum up the avodah of the vast majority of Jews today: a holiday comes, they go to shul; we wake up on time to daven, so we daven. Another level to understanding this Rashi comes from the word used for chance, מקרה. The middle section of this word, קר, means “cold.” If we can understand this word in the posuk according to the p’shat of Rashi, then we can see that this form of avodah that leads to curses is a cold avodah. There is a mesorah in chassidus, rooted in Kabbalah, that the power of Amalek was the power of cooling down the enthusiasm of Yidden for avodas Hashem. What happens when a person becomes cold to something? It becomes much harder to be involved with that thing, whether it be an area of study, an activity, etc. So we can see if we understand this Rashi according to D’rash, then the first p’shat of Rashi works perfectly with that of Onkelos. The thing that brings dinim upon Klal Yisroel, r’l, is serving Hashem with coldness, treating it like a huge imposition and difficulty, along with not giving any thought to it; treating it as something that has happened to us rather than approaching it as a conscious choice made every day.

The remedy for this is to change one’s approach to avodas Hashem. Rather than just saying “Oy, well I am a Yid, so I have to do Jewish things, and I suppose that means I’ll put on tefillin/learn a shtickl gemoro/daven,” take the approach of chassidus. Take a few moments before engaging in the avodah, and realize that Hashem made your neshomo a Yiddishe neshomo for a reason, and that reason was to perform a specific tikkun in this world. From there, consider how Hashem wants His entire Creation to be filled with simcha and joy, and that we should all cleave to Him completely. After this can be maintained for just a few minutes, try to expand this feeling to last throughout the day. Then it becomes that the avodah is not only something established, but every action in your day becomes filled with meaning in serving Hashem, rather than it being something occasional. At this point, avodas Hashem becomes the full time thing and everything else is occasional. Once this is achieved, then we can merit the brochos from this parsha, and that promise we say in Krias Sh’ma everyday, למען ירבו ימיכם וימי בניכם על האדמה אשר נשבע ה׳ לאבותיכם לתת להם כימי השמים על הארץ.

Hashem should bentsh us with health, simcha, t’vunas HaTorah, that we should be able to serve Him constantly with not just warmth but like a flaming fire, and He should make us worth to the geulah shleimah swiftly in our days in order that it should truly be like Shomayim on the earth.

שבת שלום ומבורך

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