Sedra of the Week: Behar-Bechukotai 

Sedra of the Week: Behar-Bechukotai 

Rabbi Alex Chapper looks ahead to this week's portion Torah!

In contrast to the themes of holiness, priesthood, temple service and purity in the opening chapters of Vayikra, the final portion of the book contains a dark section of rebuke, detailing the consequences of failure to observe God’s laws, with penalties including national disasters, loss of land and persecution.

Yet we do not end on a sad note. After the warning comes a promise that the bonds connecting the Jewish people to God and their homeland will never be totally broken.

That message of hope would have been a fitting conclusion. But then the Torah presents a seemingly obscure set of rules, namely the process by which someone vows to donate the equivalent monetary value of a person, an animal or property.

What connection does this have to what precedes it?

The Kotzker Rebbe explains that what follows the tochecha – the passages of rebuke – is an even more powerful message. God wants us constantly to be aware that whatever happens to us, whether we are thriving or downtrodden, we have tremendous worth as a nation and as individuals: God still values our existence and cherishes our soul.

And so now we see the beautiful symmetry of Vayikra. It began with God’s call to Moses – who felt unworthy of a dialogue with the Divine – and ends with a message to all mankind. God calls not only to the spiritually elevated but to each individual, no matter who they are or where they may be.

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