Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Bechukotai - 5776

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the last portion in the Book of Leviticus. This Parasha lists blessings and curses. Blessings, if we follow God's commandments. Curses, if we do not listen and we don't obey the commandments. Here are the first few verses of this Parasha:

"If you follow My laws faithfully and observe My commandments, then I will give you your rains in their seasons, so that the earth shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you." (Leviticus 26:3-9)

The blessing of peace appears after the promise of security and before the blessing of power and ability to defeat the enemy. Two great commentators, Rashi and Ibn Ezra, wonder why it is not listed at the beginning or at the end. Rashi explains that prosperity and power are not sufficient unless there is peace. Ibn Ezra explains, "'I will give peace in the land' means 'I will give peace among you'." The emphasis here is on 'peace among you'. If there is peace among you, then prosperity, security and defeat of the enemy will follow. If there is divisiveness and quarrels among you, your enemies will take advantage of your weakness and you will have continuous wars in your land.

How true it is as we reflect on the situation in Israel today. Without peace and harmony among all the citizens, Israel will continue to spend huge resources to face her enemies as it is in a constant state of war.

'Shalom Ba-Aretz' means, first and foremost, peace among all her citizens. A united Israel will be able to not only defeat her enemies but, hopefully, reach peace with her neighbors, bringing security, prosperity and happiness to all.

We pray for Shalom.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram