Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green
A Bill of Goods
All of our Holy Torah is Prophesy - G-d's words - dictated to Moses from
beginning to end. At the beginning of this week's Parsha (Levitcus 26:3 -
27:34) we find promises of peace, prosperity, and security which mirror the
loftiest hopes of the most elevated society. These promises are referred to
as "the Brochos," or "the blessings." Following the blessings are some of
the most fearful promises of what are referred to as "the K'lalos", or "the
curses." What is more fearful is that we have seen their fulfillment. The
Torah and its commentators enlighten our eyes as to the path which leads to
the blessings, and vice versa. Let us briefly examine the two paths.
"If you will go in My laws, and you will guard My commandments, and you
will perform them..." Doesn't "going in My laws", mean performing the
commandments? Why is "and you will perform them" repeated? Rashi, the
medieval French commentary, explains that these expressions refer to two
different things, one necessarily leading to the other. Rashi explains that
"going in G-d's laws" refers to diligently studying *Torah. Perhaps the
word "going" is used in order to convey that learning Torah is an ongoing,
growing process, and not something one studies, and takes finals, and is
done with. One is always going and growing through Torah study. Torah has
the ability to appeal to children of all ages on the one hand, and adults
at all stages of life on the other. There is always something new and
relevant one can find in the Torah and its many levels of explanation,
provided that one put in diligent effort in its study, with an emphasis on
learning in order to perform. This is the condition which all of the
blessings are predicated on. Then G-d will give the rain in its time, and
bring peace to the land, and security from outward threats will be
guaranteed. G-d's unique presence will dwell among us, and we will enjoy a
tangible, close, personal relationship with our supernatural Creator.
The Rabbi of Slonim, in his work "Nesivos Shalom" points out that if one
looks in nature we will see that
G-d gave an immutable order to the celestial bodies which must be
maintained. So it is with the earth itself. G-d created limits and borders
which each part of nature must necessarily maintain. Even below the surface
in the depths of the earth everything must be maintained in its place. If
the sun would be slightly closer or further away, that would be the end of
existence as we know it. If the shores of the oceans and other bodies of
water wouldn't limit the water within its boundaries we know that
devastation would result. When the earth below shifts, it brings calamity.
Order in nature must be consistent. The Prophet (Yirmiyahu Chap. 33) states
in G-d's agency: "If not for My covenant (of Torah observance) I would not
have established the order of heaven and earth. This verse tells us that
since mankind is the purpose of creation, everything depends on us. We are
a microcosm of the universe, and it is inextricably linked to our actions.
We have a choice. G-d is telling us that He wants us to choose observance
of His commandments which spiritually constitutes and strengthens the
foundations of the universe in a profound way.
What stands in counter distinction to "going in G-d's laws? "And it will
be, if you will not listen to Me, and you will not perform all of these
commandments. And you will despise My laws, and be disgusted by my
judgements - not doing all of My commandments, annulling My covenant
(Leviticus 26:14-15). Again we turn to Rashi who explains that this verse
delineates seven sinful acts, one leading to the next. 1. "If you will not
listen to Me," means not learning. 2. "And you will not perform etc." means
not actively doing the commandments. 3. "And you will despise My laws"
means despising others who do perform commandments. 4. "and you'll be
disgusted by My judgements," means hating the Torah sages. 5. "not to
do," means preventing others from performing commandments. 6. "all of my
commandments" means claiming that G-d never commanded us to perform the
commandments. 7. "annulling My covenant" means denying the existence of G-d.
The progression upward toward blessing begins with diligent Torah study,
and the downward slide begins with improper study , or complete lack of
study. It all hinges on that point. Subsequently the Torah enumerates what
happens G-d forbid, when we begin the downward slide. It is not intended as
a punishment, just as rain in its proper time is not a reward. It is simply
a natural consequence of maintaining the laws. When mankind keeps the order
which is dictated by G-d, the creation is thus positively affected. If not,
then the opposite occurs.
Nowadays most Jews know very little about the Torah and what it requires of
us. So many Jews in the Western world are raised with very little Jewish
knowledge, and most are not orientated to appreciate the beauty of
dedication to a Torah life. Most are not exposed to people who do dedicate
themselves to such a lifestyle. For them, the above seven sins don't apply
directly. Even so, the following analogy may apply.
I personally know an older man who is going blind. His doctor told him that
if he had regularly eaten even small amounts of certain vegetables his
blindness would have be avoided. The analogy is obvious. If there is
something we need to be doing, we want to know. If this Torah is really
something we should be learning and observing, we want to know, and as soon
as possible. Let's be like textile buyers. Let's examine the (Torah)
material, and see if it is indeed worth the price. Let's subject it to our
scrutiny. Let's talk to people who wear these materials, and see how well
it wears, and lasts. Perhaps it is a commodity worth buying.
*Torah refers briefly to the Five Books of Moses and commentaries, the
Subsequent scriptures of the Old Testament, the (now written) Oral law
consisting of the Mishnah and Talmud and its commentaries, The legal works
based on the Talmud, and moral and ethical works based on Scriptural and
Text Copyright © 2000 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.