There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion 33: Bechukotai, aliyah by aliyah.
Bechukotai Leviticus 26:3-27:34
Aliyah 1 – Leviticus 26:3-5
If you live by my regulations, observe my mitzvot and obey them; 4 then I will provide the rain you need in its season, the land will yield its produce, and the trees in the field will yield their fruit.
It is important to note that the rain has to come at the right time to be beneficial to the land and the people. Throughout Leviticus I have emphasized the fact that HaShem specifies how He wants Israel to approach him: time, place and condition are all important factors and they make an offering acceptable or unacceptable. HaShem leads by example and holds to the concept of timing.
Leviticus 26:5 Your threshing time will extend until the grape harvest, and your grape harvesting will extend until the time for sowing seed. You will eat as much food as you want and live securely in your land.
I am unfamiliar with these agricultural terms, but the emphasis and point is that Israel’s obedience will bring them material blessings that will be so abundant that they will have no concerns about food.
Aliyah 2 – Leviticus 26:6-9
Leviticus 26:7 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall before your sword.
Man must be an active partner with HaShem. If an Israelite refused to pursue an enemy or weild a sword against them, how could HaShem work through them to deal with their enemies?
Aliyah 3 – Leviticus 26:10-46
Leviticus 26:13 I am HaShem your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, so that you would not be their slaves. I have broken the bars of your yoke, so that you can walk upright.
Israel wasn’t freed from slavery so that they could stopping doing the slave labor for the Egyptians, they were freed so they could do something for HaShem: walk upright. They are less “free from” and more “free to.”
Aliyah 4 – Leviticus 27:1-15
Leviticus 27:14 When a person consecrates his house to be holy for HaShem, the cohen is to set a value on it in relation to its good and bad points; the value set by the cohen will stand.
It seems odd at first that the cohen is setting values on objects and houses when he is this “holy man.” One might wonder what animals, slaves and real estate have to do with holiness or spirituality. I see a hint that all of our lives are to be seen through the lens of HaShem. We should see everything as being from, and for HaShem. It really elevates the rest of Creation to this level of spirit unexpected by average person who is far from HaShem.
Aliyah 5 – Leviticus 27:16-21
Leviticus 27:16 If a person consecrates to HaShem part of a field belonging to his tribe’s possession, you are to value it according to its production, with five bushels of barley being valued at fifty shekels of silver [one-and-a-quarter pounds].
I wonder why someone wouldn’t just offer the value of the consecrated item instead of redeeming their property in this “consecration” system.
Aliyah 6 – Leviticus 27:22-28
Leviticus 27:26 However, the firstborn among animals, since it is already born as a firstborn for HaShem, no one can consecrate — neither ox nor sheep — since it belongs to HaShem already.
You can’t give what you don’t have.
Aliyah 7 – Leviticus 27:29-34
Leviticus 27:32 All the tenth from the herd or the flock, whatever passes under the shepherd’s crook, the tenth one will be holy to HaShem.
Does this imply that even blemished animals would be acceptable to HaShem under this circumstance?
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
- Is the Almighty bound by time?
- Can the Almighty be stopped by Man?
- What does freedom really mean?
That concludes my journey through Bechukotai for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.