Weekly Reading Insights: Behukotai 5765

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Behukotai

To be read on 19 Iyar 5765 (May 28)

Torah: Leviticus 26:3-27:34;
Haftorah: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14 (parallel to main theme of Reading: consequences of disobeying G-d's will)
Pirkei Avot
Chapter 4

Behukotai is the 10th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 33rd overall, and 47th out of 54 in overall length.

Behukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34) opens with a description of the physical rewards that we reap for fulfilling G-d's commandments. This is followed by an outline of the consequences resulting from disobeying G-d, and the eventual repentance and forgiveness that will come in the future. The last sections concern endowment valuations of people, animals, real estate, and crops to G-d (consecrating their monetary value to the sanctuary). With the conclusion of Bechukotai, we also complete the book of Vayikra (Leviticus)-and so upon the close of its reading in synagogue, we proclaim, "Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek!"


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:33-65/Behukotai)

One who gives charity to a poor person unites the Holy Name above as it should properly be completed because charity is the Tree of Life [Zeir Anpin], and charity is given in justice [the sefira of malchut]. When charity is given, each is united with the other. Then the Holy Name exists in completion.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:33-65/Behukotai)

There is no set time for these cases, for sometimes a soul can progress through its incarnations in twenty years, or a hundred, or a thousand - all depending upon the seriousness of the sins that it committed in this world. In contrast, the fire of Purgatory does not singe the souls of the righteous and Torah scholars.... Therefore, they must be reincarnated into this world in order to scour them from whatever sins they may have done, for there is no one that has not committed some sin.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From "The Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya". (S:33-65/Behukotai)

....and the verse would contain a promise that wherever the physical People of Israel would be exiled to, an element of the Divine Presence ( Shechina) would remain with them.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"They shall stumble one over the other, as before the sword, without one pursuing." (26:37)
"One will stumble over the sin of another," comments Rashi, "as all Jews are guarantors (arevim) for each other." The Hebrew word for guarantor has the same root as the word for sweetness and pleasantness. Every Jew must look upon his brother and fellow guarantor with a kindly eye and seek what is good and worthy in his neighbor. The same Hebrew root also implies intermingling one with the other. Every Jew is part of the greater whole of the Jewish nation.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:33-65/Behukotai)

"I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and my covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember." (Lev. 26:42)
The Patriarchs are not mentioned in chronological order in this verse, but rather in the order of the attributes and eras they personified. After the Torah was given, the Jews entered the era of Torah, personified by Jacob who was the pillar of Torah. When the Holy Temple was built they entered the era of "service" and Isaac embodied the attribute of service. And these last generations of the era before Moshiach are connected to Abraham who was the epitome of lovingkindness. The Baal Shem Tov explained that now, in the final era before Moshiach, emphasis must be placed on deeds of kindness to hasten the Redemption.
(Rabbi Ben Tzion of Bobov)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:33-65/Behukotai)

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, long time friend of Ascent and Rosh Yeshiva of Od Yosef Chai in Shechem and head of Gal Enai (www.inner.org), was the sandek (the individual who holds the infant at the time of the circumcision) at the brit mila of Elazar Yitzchak Leiter, which took place on Lag B'omer several years ago. The following are paraphrases of Rabbi Ginsburgh's talk about the baby's two names, Elazar Yitzchak:

A child's name is revealed to the parents by divine inspiration and also indicates the baby's talents and goals in life. Elazar was the son of Aaron, the first high priest. Yitzchak, or Isaac, was the son of the first forefather, Abraham.

While both Elazar and Yitzchak were famous because of their righteous fathers, they each had special qualities that surpassed their fathers.

In addition, both were also very connected to the Land of Israel. Elazar was the high priest who led the Jews into the Holy Land after his father's passing. Yitzchak was the only one of our forefathers who was forbidden to leave Israel because of his elevated spiritual level. Lag B'omer, famous as the day of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's passing, is really a special day for his son, Elazar, who inherited his father's place from that day forward. Rabbi Ginsburgh emphasized that while a son is secondary to his father; sometimes the son is primary because he is his father's son.

Rabbi Ginsburgh also connected the event with the Torah reading of the week, Bechukotai, by citing the Talmudic discussion of the first verse, "If you will go with My statutes" (Lev. 26:3). The word "if", in Hebrew "im", has the same letters as the word for "mother", "em". The Talmud (Avoda Zara 5a) suggests that we use the alternative meaning to read the verse: "One goes with My statues because of one's mother". One's mother helps a person follows the Torah laws.

The word "im" can also be translated as "please". While the father has the mitzvah to educate his children, it is the mother who uses compassion and supplication (please) to keep her children on the right path. Rebbe Michel of Zlotchov had a heavenly revelation that at a particular instant he had the opportunity to not die but to rise to Heaven like Elijah the prophet. Rebbe Michel responded to the offer, saying, "my children are little, and I am still needed to guide them. Better to be buried in the ground at a later time, and to use the moment to be with my children."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the name of this week's Torah reading teaches an important lesson. The word "Bechukotai" comes from the root word "chok", meaning "law" or "statute".

This word also means "engraved"; we must learn the Torah as though it was engraved in us. Unlike letters written on paper, where the ink and paper are two separate entities, letters engraved in stone are completely one with the stone. So too, we must totally integrate our Torah learning into our lives, requiring of ourselves that we and the Torah are one reality.

This is also the quality of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who made Torah his whole being. On this Shabbat after Lag B'omer, all of us should spend a little extra time studying Torah with intensity and putting into practice what we learned. And may we all have much Jewish pride in our children and children's children.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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