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Two Minutes of Torah: Bechukotai - Rewards

Our daughter Gabby is now at an age where we’ve started to negotiate a little bit in order to get her to do certain things.  In this way she’s told, if she finishes all of her food then she might be allowed to have a cookie at the end.  Or, if she behaves herself, then we’ll go somewhere.  She’s learning the fact that she has some power over what will happen through the behavior and the way that she behaves.

Something similar goes on in this week’s Torah portion, between God and the Israelites.  In this week’s Torah portion we start by saying IF you follow my laws and faithfully observe my commandments and then we get all of the things that will come for us.  And, really we can divide it into four promises made by God ~ I will grant you rains in the season, an important necessity for an agricultural society.  I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone.  I will look with favor upon you and make you fertile and multiply you, maintaining the covenant with you and I will establish my abode in your midst and I will not spurn you. 

Four promises made by God, if, we the Israelites obey the commandments given by God.  Of these four promises, three may be considered to be in the natural world or in the area of God, the rain, the favor from God and the establishment of God’s abode in our midst.  But in the midst of this we have this idea of receiving peace and lying down untroubled.  It goes on to elaborate  ~ I will give the land respite from vicious beasts and no sword shall cross your land.  The promise of peace may seem a little bit strange, because as we know, peace requires not just us to adhere to it but our neighbors and those around us to adhere to peace. 

Perhaps the message for us to take away is that when we pursue and follow God’s commandments as we’re supposed to, then we will be the kind of people who make peace with our neighbors.  We will have the kind of society that is at peace with those around us and, therefore, we will be untroubled by anyone.  And no swords shall cross our land.  These commandments remind us, as we do with our daughter Gabi, that we do have power over our fate.  Through our actions, we can encourage God’s behavior, but more than this we can create a set of circumstances by which we live in favorable situations.

Bechukotai makes it clear how we can be rewarded.  The challenge is for us to live up to our side of the deal so that we receive these rewards rather than the punishments which God also elaborates.

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