May 30, 2019


5.31.2019 Weekly Torah Portion

This week’s Parsha is Behukotai.  This translates to “in my statutes.”  I believe God is telling Moses to speak to the Israelites and instruct them again to live within the Letter and Spirit of the Law.  This is, as we all know, a very difficult task.  Too often people live on one side or the other of this message, worrying too much about the minutia of the intricate details of the Law or not caring at all about the details and thinking that they can do what they want and be in the Spirit of the Law.  This is the polarization that the world is in right now, I believe.  When one is only concerned with how to “look” good, it is easy to use the rules to lie!  We are seeing this in our world today; the “populists” don’t care about the people, yet they say they do and make someone an enemy to bond with others.  In Hungary, they have even made laws for the ruling class, not the people.  It is what happens when we are so concerned about the letter of the law and not the spirit.

How do you live?  Do you follow only the letter of the Law?  Do you not care about the Law at all?  Do you think that the Spirit is all that is important?  Is there a way to live in both Spirit and Letter of the Law?

The Parsha also is often interpreted as reward and punishment because it has within it the promises and the “curses” for the people depending on whether they follow the law or not.  Yet, I think that this is a mis-interpretation of the Torah.  God is not punishing nor rewarding.  God is the energy that allows us to create.  What we are being told, I believe, is that we have to make a choice as to what we are creating, good and Holy or chaos and Evil.  While this may seem too simplistic, it is a clear choice.  Because we have free will, we have the responsibility of choosing what we are going to create.  We don’t have control over the results, yet we have total control over what we put in to each and every situation in life.  When life is about what we get and what we don’t, it is necessary to blame others, even God.  I find that blaming others, blaming God or even saying “God didn’t want this to happen” is a copout.  The truth is that we make things happen, and when we put in the best we can we are doing God’s Will, and we can’t control the results because there are other people involved.  I am playing golf now, and I find that I can blame the club, beat myself up and accept that sometimes I just don’t hit the ball well, and even if I hit it well, the wind might take it, the aim might be off, etc.  Rather than blame, the next right action is to learn from the experience.  This is true for all of life’s experiences.  Yet, we are in a time when blaming others has become a blood sport!

What do you create with your actions?  How do you use your free will?  How often do you act as a victim and create more victims and “bad guys”?  How often do you act as a responsible person and create more responsible people?

What the Parsha is also telling us, in my opinion, is the consequences from our behaviors/choices. When we do the right thing, when we are creating positive angels, positive pockets of energy, by following the Spirit and Letter of the Law, good things will come from this.  Not necessarily what we want, yet good will be the end result.  When we do the wrong thing, when we are creating negative pockets of energy, by going against the letter of the law, we will experience bad.  The bad that is described is the bad that the world has experienced over the millennia.  We have been lost; we have been exiled; we have been paranoid; we have given our children over to death through war and famine.  We have continued to say NO to God and continued to live in misery and despair.

Do you blame the consequences of your behavior and choices on someone else when things don’t go your way?  When do you create positivity and when do you create negativity?  How do you know the difference?  Are you aware of what your actions create?

Finally, for this year, I want to say that we have to change our ways and stop blaming God, others and/or saying we are doing God’s Will when we spread hatred and strife and despair and misery.  We have to change to doing God’s Will in a way that promotes life, liberty and Truth and Love and Justice.  This is the JOB of all humans, and as Jews, it is our mission in life to deliver this message through our actions.  This is what we have been chosen for.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mark