After a few weeks of being one parshah off, everyone will be synchronized following this week's reading. For those who are also reading Parshas Behar this week, the link is included below.
While Parshas Bechukosai is better known for the collection of curses known as the Tochachah, in which Hashem warns Bnei Yisrael to stay on the right path, the first pasuk in the parshah provides us with a tremendous lesson as well. The parshah begins, “אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם” “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them” (Vayikra 26:3). Rashi asks, what is the difference between following the statutes and observing the commandments? Aren’t they the same thing? The famous answer given is that Hashem is telling us that besides for keeping the mitzvos, we must spend time studying the text of the Torah. But not just studying, laboring through it; spending time and energy focusing on examining the Torah until its depths. This is key to receiving Hashem’s blessings.
The Ohr HaChaim offers 42 explanations as to the advantages of in-depth Torah study that makes it so vital. We have discussed a number of these explanations in previous years, and this year I would like to offer another.
Hashem rewards us for each mitzvah that we do, even if it’s very small. However, if we do an aveirah that directly counteracts the mitzvah, it is possible for that mitzvah to be overshadowed by it when our merit is tallied up (See Sotah 21a). Except for the mitzvah of learning Torah, which cannot be overshadowed by any amount of sinning. The reward for the in-depth study of Torah will always remain prominent.
This explanation should help emphasize an important point: the in-depth study of the Torah is just as significant as the performance of the mitzvos. Even though this study may not serve a practical means like mitzvos do, what it does is show our love and commitment to Hashem. The Torah was written by Hashem, and therefore, we can learn a lot about Him through its study. Through the study of this gift, we display a desire to know and understand Hashem better. In other words, we express a desire to enhance our relationship with Him; the same purpose served by the mitzvos.
While going through this parshah and its warnings of staying on the right path, let us remember that there are multiple ways to do stay straight and each one serves its own purpose. Neither can be said to be more important than the other, and neither can fulfill each other’s purpose.
Chazak Chazak V’Nischazek!
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