With every appalling supermarket shooting as we’ve seen in Buffalo and then days later in the Californian Church, one questions the justice of the world. With every act of hatred an equilibrium gets shaken. With every Cancer diagnosis, unanticipated accident, struggle or death one wouldn’t be human not to question.
This week’s portion; the last of Leviticus contains what’s known as the TOCHECHAH the list of curses if fidelity to God is dropped or compromised. Progressive Jews resisted for many years the public reading of such threats as offensive to a thoughtful theology. We know good pious commitment does not ensure protection from all life’s ills. But we also know that in our lives we are tested continually, randomly and cruelly.
In Leviticus 26:23-24 we read: “If you walk with Me keri … then I [God] will walk with you keri.” There is great debate about how to translate this word keri. It’s only found here in the Torah.
Rashi and Rambam (Maimonides) both translate this as happening one, sporadically. Could this be understood as an incentive to make connections (divine or otherwise) and community commitment part of our lives rather than sporadic visits. Do we weather the challenges thrust upon us better if we are knitted cohesively with others?
Rabbi Ben Sprat suggests this and uses the Midrash of Vayikra Rabbah 4:6 to demonstrate.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught a parable: A group of people were on a ship. One of them took a drill and started drilling underneath his seat. The others said to him: What are you sitting and doing? He replied: What do you care. Is this not underneath my own seat that I am drilling? They said to him: But the water will rise and flood us all on this ship.
This is of comfort to me-noone can avoid the challenges (curses in Torah text) that come our way but we can alleviate their intensity.
Behukottai pulls us into community.
It can be literally live saving at times.
This Shabbat our beloved REsouled will host Liberal Judiasm Open Shabbat for LJ@120. PLEASE PLEASE COME and welcome potential visitors and show what we as a congregation have created through music and cohesion.
Similarly join me at LJ Day of Celebration on Sunday. Book here or ask us to book for you. I am happy to collect anyone that needs a ride!
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