This week we turn to one of the final sections of the Book of Leviticus, the parashah known as B’Chukotay. You will find this week’s section in the book of Leviticus 26:3-27:34. Although this section deals with a number of issues, one theme stands out and forces us into deep contemplation.
In Leviticus 26:3 we read “Im b’chukotai telchu v’im mitzvotai tishmru va’asitem otam/If you walk in (follow) My laws and keep (watch over) My commandments and you do them…” The basic theme here is a political or historical tit-for-tat. The text seems to be saying that If you follow G-‘d’s laws then goodness will come, but if you choose not, then evil will be the outcome.
This verse, however, is more complicated than at first it might appear to be. Grammatically, the verse presents us with conceptual problems. If we read the verse carefully in the Hebrew text, we note that the verse’s first two verbs have a subjunctive sense (expressing doubt), thus it is unclear if we will choose or not choose to follow G-d’s laws, but the third verb (to do) has a declarative sense “You will do them” no questions asked!
How come? Might the Torah portion be giving us an important lesson in life? Could this week’s parashah be hinting at the idea that adults may not like what they have to do, but being an adult means getting beyond one’s own feelings and pleasures and doing something that you do not want to do, but still doing it simply because it is the right thing to do? Is the Torah portion addressing an age such as ours where “feelings” overwhelm facts, where adults often act as children, and where politicians do what is best for them rather than for the nation?
This week’s parashah’s theme is to be an adult is to learn to live in a world where we do not always get our way. Being an adult means going beyond the ‘I” and coming to understand the needs of the “we”. This careful balance between the “I” and the “we”, the personal versus the common good is found throughout the Hebrew Biblical text. For example, Noah’s great act was that he walked with G-d even when it might have been inconvenient; the same is true of every honored Biblical figure. Greatness is not measured always by what we say or feel, but in the end by what we do.
What do you think? Are you stuck in a world of the “I” or can you move into the world of the “we”?
Youtubes of the week:
Israel has instituted a program to bring citizens of diverse political persuasions together via community singing. People who have never met are given one hour to learn to sing together. Here are three examples. Might such a program bring people in the US or around the world together?
In the Jezreel Valley:
Women singing together:
On the streets of Jerusalem: