The Torah completes the book of Vayikra in a very stark and disturbing
manner. It describes in great detail the negative face of Jewish uniqueness
and its special role in human affairs. The Jewish nation is blessed beyond
all others but it is also held to a very rigorous standard. Though it is
difficult for us ordinary mortals to justify logically in our minds the
events of a 1900 year exile of torment and persecution, somehow in Heaven
everything that has occurred to us is justified and necessary. It is
certainly not pleasant to have to recall the difficulties of our history.
Perhaps that is why Jewish history remains a relatively ignored subject in
so many Jewish schools today. But the inclusion of the prediction of what
would happen to the Jewish people, as detailed in this week’s parsha,
remains very instructive.
It is not only the content of that prediction that is so awesome – it is the
infinite accuracy of the events that would befall Israel that is so wondrous
and incredulous. Ramban declared, almost a millennia ago, that if anyone
could predict and accurately describe events that would occur hundreds of
years hence, that person would be recognized as a prophet of enormous talent
What shall we say nine hundred years after Ramban’s detailed prophecy of
Moshe’s, regarding the fate and events that would befall Israel during its
historic journey through human civilization. One has to be particularly
prejudiced or obtusely ignorant not to be awestruck by the words that appear
in this week’s parsha.
We are a different and difficult people. That description of us shines forth
from almost every parsha of the Torah. We have a very different and
difficult history to relate ourselves to. That is really the reason that the
parsha is so detailed and insistent in describing the bleak events of the
Jewish future. Most people like to blend in and not advertise their
differences and particularities. We all crave recognition, but not all of
us want to be treated as celebrities with all of the attendant psychological
and emotional baggage that such status invariably brings with it.
The Torah does not allow us to forget for an instant that we are the
celebrities on the world stage of events – for good or for better. Moshe
emphasizes that truth in his description of the difficulties that Israel
will have to encounter and overcome in its future existence. The accuracy of
Moshe’s words is ironically vaguely comforting for it confirms to us in a
most vivid fashion the uniqueness of the Jewish people and the truth of its
faith and Torah.
It is most fitting that at the end of the parsha the congregation rises to
strengthen itself and others in the core faiths and observances of Torah and
Jewish life. To know and believe in our story is to come closer to our
Creator and His Torah. Just as the words of the parsha have been completely
fulfilled, so too will the blessings of the Torah be recorded for us and
promised to us, and be actualized in our lives and days.
Rabbi Berel Wein