(Leviticus: 26:3-27:34) / (Haftara: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)
(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 4) \ (Sfirat Ha’omer)
1. [26:3] “If you walk in My chukim (statutes)…” Chukim are commandments whose reasons are either not comprehensible, or very hard to understand. For example, the laws of kashrut and the commandment of tfillin are chukim. However, God wants us to be rational people (Dvarim 29:8 and others). How can faith in God and His Torah go together with an inquiring mind and clear intellect?
2. [26:36] “the sound of a leaf will chase them…but no-one will be chasing them”. If they don’t walk in My ways, says God, they will be become paranoid and imagine enemies who are not there. What is a natural way of understanding this pasuk? What types of sins could cause a person to become paranoid?
3. [Haftara Jeremiah 16:19] “…to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth.” We do not believe that in the future all the people in the world will become Jewish, however, we believe that everyone will recognize the one universal God who revealed the Torah to us. This attitude, however, could lead us and especially our children to arrogance. How can we teach our children that our world-view is true, without making them arrogant?
4. [Haftara: Jeremiah 17:9] “The heart is deceitful above all things and very weak…”
Can spiritual or psychological weakness make a person deceitful? How? If a person is psychologically weak by nature, how can he or she become psychologically strong?
5. [Sfirat Haomer] During the time between Pesach and Shavuot, we reduce our joyful events (weddings, concerts) in order to commemorate the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva. Our tradition tells us that they died in a plague because they did not respect each other. Wouldn’t it be educationally better to have customs that increase our respect for each other, rather than limiting our joy? Why did our rabbis choose to limit our joy?
God arranged creation so that even while in the physical world, man would be able to open a door to the spiritual and experience the Divine. This would constitute the highest perfection that a mortal human can attain.
–Aryeh Kaplan, 1934-1983, USA.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer