Vol 37.13 - Bechukotai         Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5751) The reason that the Torah promised physical destinies as a reward for Mitzvot. And also in the Future - also for those that serve G-d without intent to receive reward; The essesnce of the promise of: "on the day that they plant , it will yield fruits" (Torat kohanim 26:4) and also regarding the innovation of the spiritual condition of the world in the Future  


1. On the verse: (Lev.26:4)

“The Land will yield its produce”:

The Sages state in Torat Kohanim: “Not like the manner as it is performed now but rather like the manner that was performed in the days of Adam HaRishon, And from where do we know that the land will be sown and produce fruits on the selfsame day? It therefore states: “He made a memorial for His wonders. And it also states: “Let the earth sprout vegetation seed yielding herbs” which teaches us that on the selfsame say that it was sown it produced fruit

“and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit”:

“Not like the manner as it is performed now but rather like the way that it was performed in the days of Adam HaRishon . . that on the selfsame day that it was planted it produced fruit. And from where do we know that the bark will be edible? It therefore states: “fruit trees (eitz/wood)” (meaning that the bark/wood will be edible). Now if the phrase means to say that it will produce fruit, the verse already states: “producing fruit”. Therefore why does it state: “fruit trees”? It means to teach us that just as the fruit is edible so too the bark was edible. And from where do we learn that even non-fruit bearing trees will produce fruit? It therefore states: “and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit”

This subject, concerning the wondrous miracles and advantages that will be in the future is found in the saying of the Sages in many places. For example: In tractate Ketuboth it states: “There will be a time when the Land of Israel will produce baked cakes of the purest quality and silk garments . . there will be a time when wheat will rise as high as a palm-tree and will grow on the top of the mountains . . there will be a time when a grain of wheat will be as large as the two kidneys of a big bull” and so forth.

One must understand:

In describing the condition in the Future, Rambam states:

“In that era. .the occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d. Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, grasping the knowledge of their Creator according to the full extent of human potential, as it states: 'The world will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the ocean bed."

And it is understood that when Bnei Yisroel will be in such a condition as that, no concern will be given to the aforementioned physical miracles and wonders that will take effect in the fruits of the land (as Rambam states: “and all the delights will be freely available as dust.”)

And even though it is understood that there is an advantage to these things, for when “good will flow in abundance” it is a medium for Bnei Yisroel to be “free to involve themselves in Torah and wisdom without any pressures or disturbances”. Nevertheless why did the Sages expound so much on the quality of the physical delights that will occur in the Future, as if it is an exceedingly special and lofty thing, of its own accord?

2. The commentators ask a slightly similar question as this, concerning the rewards for the performance of Mitzvot that are enumerated in our Parsha (where it states): “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them - I will give your rains etc.” And Scripture continues to elaborate on the particulars of the rewards of the Mitzvot, where the majority are physical things. Yet the main completeness of the reward is the spiritual benefit and good, which is the true good and constructiveness.

The commentators explain this according to the view of Rambam:

“All these events (in our Parsha) are not the primary reward and all etc. the good things that are mentioned here in our Parsha are from things that are in the category of just the ‘removal of obstacles’. Thus, if you will keep My Mitzvot, I will remove from you all the obstacles such as wars and disease, and hunger and struggle in a manner that will allow you to serve G-d without any hindrance. However, the main reward of the World to Come (Olam HaBa) is not mentioned here, in order that you serve the Creator for its own sake (lishmo) and not because of that reward or the fear of punishment (Kli Yakar).”

Yet according to many commentators, the Parsha speaks of the (actual) reward for the performance of Mitzvot.

One could say, that the reason that the reward that is enumerated in the verses are mainly physical tidings, can be understood by prefacing an explanation of the question:

Why does the verse elaborate on the reward for Torah study and the observance of Mitzvot when the (real) purpose of Avodah is to serve G-d specifically for its own sake, as it states: “Be not like servants who minister unto their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but be like servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward”?

However, (it must be that) this Avodah is a great service, as Rashi states: “This is a very high level which is not merited by every wise man”.

 Nevertheless, the start of Avodah is service for the sake of receiving a reward (Shelo Lishma). As the Sages state:

“A person should always occupy himself with the Torah even when it is not for G-d's sake for out of service which is not intended for God's sake will come service that is intended for God's sake.”. “Therefore, when one teaches children, women, and most of the common people, one should teach them to serve out of fear and in order to receive a reward until their knowledge grows etc.

And since Torah speaks to the majority, and Torah study and keeping Mitzvot for most Bnei Yisroel is not; ‘not upon the condition of receiving a reward’, therefore the reward for Torah study and keeping Mitzvot is explained in the Torah.

And just as it concerns reward, in general, it also concerns the type of the reward. For since the majority of Bnei Yisroel, at that level, generally do not have a desire for spiritual rewards and occurrences – therefore the Torah mainly explains the physical rewards and occurrences. For in this everyone has a grasp and understanding which will encourage them to study Torah and keep Mitzvot

In this manner, one could also explain the Future (Asid lavo), where the Sages extol the time of the Future (by enumerating) the physical miracles and wonders which will occur then. For even in the Future, not everyone will immediately reach the lofty perception of spiritual reward, and certainly not the level of Avodah Lishma, an Avodah of love. But rather even then there will be an orderly progression from level to level and man will not be born at the epitome of completion (shelaimus) in knowledge and comprehension of G-d and Avodah from love. Therefore there is a need for physical miracles and wonders, in order to preface and encourage the performance of Mitzvot.

3. However, this explanation is somewhat difficult, for Parshat Bechukotai and so too all the Parshiot in the Torah that state the promise the reward for Mitzvot, were spoken to all of Yisroel, even to those who are at a lofty level in their service to G-d.

Yet according to the aforementioned, we find that this Parsha has no relevance to those that have a comprehension of spiritual reward. And certainly not to those whose Avodah is not for the sake of reward. It pertains, rather, only to those whose comprehension is only regarding physical benefit, and only this will encourage them to keep Torah and Mitzvot

And even though, in general, Torah speaks to the majority, it is more logical to explain this in a manner that pertains to everyone. And moreover, there is certainly a lesson in this also to the minority.

Even more so:

In the explanation of the verse: “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them” the Sages state (and it is cited by Rashi) that this means: “You shall toil in the study of Torah”. And not only that, but that the toil in Torah should be in order to observe and fulfill.

Thus, the primary intent of this verse is regarding the observance of Torah and Mitzvot, not in a normal manner, but rather it refers to the observance of Torah study and keeping Mitzvot in a lofty manner – study with toil and also the keeping and observing Mitzvot with toil.

And particularly according to that which is cited in the holy books (Sefarim) regarding the meaning of the word: “Bechukotai” (according to allusive interpretation – Remez) that it is from the word “engraving” (chakikah).

In other words, the Torah study and keeping of Mitzvot mentioned here, refer, not just to a manner of plain toiling and effort, but to a manner where it is engraved – meaning that the Torah and Mitzvot are engraved in one’s heart and entire being. And this is like the advantage of engraved letters over that of written letters.

For not only are the engraved letters more unified with the stone in which they are engraved, over that of written letters with the parchment on which they are written - with engraved letters there is no substance besides the stone on which the letter are engraved. In other words, the Torah study that is alluded to here is not in a manner that the person with the Torah are as two things that have been joined. But it is even more than that – the person is not an entity (of himself). For his entire being is that of the Torah that he learns. And it is understood that for such a person where Torah study is at the level of ‘engraving’ that even the Mitzvot that he performs is in this manner, where it pervades his entire being.

From all this it is understood, that when speaking about such a very lofty level of Torah study and the observance of Mitzvot – it is simple that for this person nothing matters except Torah and Mitzvot, and certainly not physical reward and promises. Therefore, how could it be, that for a person on this level in his Avodah to G-d, we say to him that in the merit of “following My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them” that he will receive the reward that “I will give your rains in their time etc.” and all the other physical promises of material things etc.?

4. One could say the explanation is:

Regarding Torah, it states: “for it is your life and your longevity”. The meaning is not just that Torah brings life to a person in this world and in the World to Come, but rather that it is the life of every Jew. In other words, for a Jewish person, Torah is not an additional thing to his being and (just) one of other parts to his life. But rather, it is his actual being and life.

Man is divided into many parts, and in general – the head, the body and the foot (rosh, guf, regel).

·         The head is the place of one’s highest powers – intellect etc. and also the senses of sight and hearing.

·         The body is the receptacle and place for one’s Middot etc.

·         The foot, however, possesses just the power of walking – which is a very low power, in which one does not recognize the quality of man (over other species)

Nevertheless, all this is regarding the specific powers of man. However, one’s primary life-force (chayos nafshi) which transcends all specific powers, is found equally throughout one’s body – from his head to his feet.

And the reason is because the primary life-force is the essence of the person – therefore it is found in each and every point of the body – equally.

This is similar to the story in the Talmud regarding how the pleasure of the soul has an effect also on the heel of the foot (as it states) “good news fattens the bone.” For pleasure is from the essence of the soul and therefore it permeates, and affects the entire person even to his heel.

And moreover:

The proof and test whether a specific thing’s source of vitality is from the essence of the person - is when it is revealed not just in one’s loftier powers, but even in one’s simple powers – even till the heel of one’s foot.

As an example:

When one contemplates a thing that gives him happiness, the proof that the happiness permeates one’s entire being and that he is truly happy is when the happiness manifests itself, not just in one’s thought and speech, but also when it manifests itself in one’s deeds - even until he dances with his feet. The same applies to the other Middot such as love and fear or, to contrast, pain etc.

From this it is also understood that which Torah is our life.

For the revelation and indicator that Torah is the life and entire essence of a person, is when Torah has an effect and influence, not just on matters of one’s soul – spiritual and lofty matters – but even on physical aspects and in all the materialistic aspects that pertain to him.

If the reward for Torah study lishma was just that one would merit spiritual levels and lofty aspects – it would not be a complete indicator that Torah is his entire essence. For reward is like a natural outcome for one’s efforts in Torah study. Therefore it is a spiritual reward corresponding to his spiritual Avodah.

However, when one is imbued with physical good as a consequence of one's spiritual Avodah in Torah and Mitzvot (as it states): “I will give your rains in their time etc., and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit.” Then it is visible and recognizable that Torah and Mitzvot are not just a study and deed which is supplementory to one’s being or just a part of one’s being – but that the Torah is his entire being and life. Therefore the effort in it brings good and benefit in all his aspects- even in physical aspects of this world.

The reason that Torah is the life and essence of a person is because the Torah (oraita) and G-d are completely One. Therefore just as G-d is the Primary Being who brought into being all existence from the truth of His being, and that from Him all the qualities and types of completeness in the entire Creation ensued, so too is it regarding Torah. For it brings good and benefit in all the Creation collectively, all the types of benefit, both spiritual and physical.

Accordingly we find, that on the contrary, specifically in the aspect of physical reward, is it emphasized that Torah is in the manner of “Bechukotai ” - from the word engraving – namely that the Torah is engraved within him, so much so that it actually becomes his being.

5. According to the aforementioned, the connection between the physical rewards enumerated in the verses, and the sayings of the Sages concerning the Future,

For example: The aforementioned sayings that: “on the selfsame day that it was planted it produced fruit” , “There will be a time when the Land of Israel will produce baked cakes of the purest quality and silk garments” etc. - . . there will be a time when wheat will rise as high as a palm-tree and will grow on the top of the mountains . . there will be a time when a grain of wheat will be as large as the two kidneys of a big bull” and so forth,

can also be explained.

For this specifically shows the completeness of the status of Bnei Yisroel in their Torah study and the observance of Mitzvot.

The reason that nowadays, man’s needs come about in a manner of burden and struggle, and much time passes until the vegetation or trees produce fruit, is not only because of the Sin of the Tree of Knowledge, where the condition of the world decreased,

(As it states) “The soil will be cursed because of you. In sorrow you shall eat from it etc. By the sweat of your face you will eat bread”.

But rather, it is because the aspects of the physical worlds are not “receptacles” as it were, for G-d’s effluence. Thus, even when a person studies Torah and fulfills Mitzvot properly, and he is given all goodness even in his physical endeavors, it (still) does not come immediately – because physical entities are not united with their spiritual source – G-d’s effluence

And this is the innovation that will be in the Future, in the era of Moshiach – that there will not be a delay between the physical deed and the fruition. Because in the Future all the physical entities will be united with their root and source – G-d’s word.

And this difference –

between the Avodah in the manner of “engraving” and the unification in this time versus the innovation that will be in the Future,

can be understood according to the metaphor of the difference between engraving on the surface of the stone versus engraving that traverses the entire width of the stone (from one side to the other).

The difference between them, as is explained, is that:

·         Letters which are engraved, for example, on (the surface of) a precious stone – even though the letters are part and parcel of the stone, nevertheless since (the indentation of) these letters take up space in the stone – they have a similarity and correlation to writing, for they also obstruct somewhat. For the letters diminish the “brightness” (tohar) of the precious stone.

·         Whereas, engraving that traverses the entire width of the stone (from one side to the other), (like the engraving on the Tablets), do not take up space in the stone and they are completely separate from written letters.

The same is with the lesson (nimshal):

When something is engraved within a person similar to the engraving on a precious stone, namely, that it is engraved and embedded within him (not like written letters which are on parchment) – yet it does not really permeate his entire essence (like the engraving just on the surface) - then just, as by that person, the thing is not his true essence, so too also, is the result of this: The result is not in a manner that permeates even to all of his external aspects.

However, when Torah and Mitzvot are engraved throughout the person from one side to the other. Namely, it is his entire essence and it permeates and has an effect throughout – in all of his powers and affairs even until all the things in the world. Therefore, it is visible and apparent even in the physicality of the world that there is no separation between the deeds of a person and the (resulting) fruits that grow. For the effluence of G-d truly flows immediately without any hindrance at all.

And this aspect will be visible in the Future, for then the engraving on the Tablets will be revealed as it states: “engraved upon the Tablets”. And as the Sages state: “Read not "engraved" (charut) but "liberty" (chairut)” – liberty from the Angel of death etc. And this liberty will be in the Future, with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach, speedily and in our days, mamash.

m’Sichas Chodesh Shvat 5739

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