Candles Friday 3rd June 8:03pm
Havdalah 4th 8:58pm
Mevarchin Rosh Hodesh Sivan
Next Week Shavuot is Sunday and Monday.
The Book of Leviticus, having listed what is required to be a good person, ends with the Tochecha, the warning, that if we abandon Torah our future will be dire. We will sink to the lowest levels of the people around us. On the other hand, if we keep them, we will flourish.
There are those who take this literally. I have heard it said that as Israel becomes more religious, morally she is stronger and better able to withstand assault. That the reason we lost two Temples was because we were not good people and did not follow Torah. I am wary of treating the Torah the way we treat astrology or Nostradamus or anyone who tries to predict the future. It's a fool’s game. Even most financial advisors using all the latest technology can’t get it right most of the time.
We should behave well because it is the right way to behave. But history does show that when many Jews marry out or disappear, it is left to the few who remain committed to keep the flame alight. The Torah uses poetry and symbolism to describe good and bad possibilities and the options. In the end we are the ones who make the choices.
But notice the difference in the text. It starts off positively. “If you live according to My rules and if you keep My commandments and do them you will be blessed.” No it doesn’t say there’s any guarantee of a long wealthy life devoid of pain or illness.
But then it goes on to say that “If you despise and if your soul hates My commandments and breaks our covenant, bad things will follow.” Why does the first part just talk about “keeping” whereas the second part talks about “hating”?
I keep on coming across Jews who say they hate Jewish Law. It’s too strict. Too much. Get’s in the way of having fun. They want to be free to be like everyone else. Well if that’s what you want. That is what you will get.
The Torah does not expect everyone to keep everything. But neither does it expect one to hate or revile something whose only aim is to help you live a more meaningful life. Perhaps you do not keep all you should, but that’s no reason for thinking it is bad and pointless.