Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34
“If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments …” (Lev. 26:3).
Torah describes two levels of Jewish spirituality, two levels of our covenantal relationships and obligations as Jews. The opening verse of Bechukotai describes the first: “If you [plural form] follow My statutes and observe My commandments …” (Lev. 26:3). We have a communal kedushah, a common call to holiness, which we inherit just by being born into this people. That is the focus of this week’s parasha. The second level is found in Deuteronomy (Ki Tavo), which uses the singular rather than the plural to describe our personal responsibilities as part of this covenantal people.
We live in an age that exalts our individualism. However, when we collectively lose sight of what it means to be part of a community, when we only think about our own personal agendas, the fabric of our society begins to unravel. We may be seeing an alarming expression of this process today in the lack of civility within the U.S. presidential primaries.
It is no coincidence that we read Bechukotai a week before we celebrate Shavuot. Shavuot recalls the revelation at Sinai – the moment we became a covenantal people. In a Reform setting, we celebrate Confirmation on Shavuot because it connects our young people to our communal covenant.
The optic in our secular society teaches that the world owes us whatever we want. Thank God, Torah teaches that the world we all want is possible – we just need to do our part.
Hi there! I am the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland, where I have served since 2016.
(c) copyright 2015 Rabbi Gary Pokras