Pearls of Rashi – Behar-Bechukosai

This week’s Torah portion tells us the wonderful rewards which Hashem will give us (Vayikroh 26:3) “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them…” The fact that the Torah says in the same verse “follow My statutes” and “observe My commands” seems to be repetitious. They both mean the same exact thing! Therefore Rashi cites the words “if you follow My statutes” and gives the following explanation. “I might think that this refers to the fulfillment of the commandments. However when the Torah says ‘and observe My commandments’ the fulfillment of the commandments is (already) stated. So what is the meaning of ‘If you follow My statutes’? It means that you must toil in the study of Torah.” In other words, when the Torah says to follow in Hashem’s statutes here what it really means is to toil in Torah study.

Many of the commentaries ask from where Rashi derives that this refers specifically to toiling in Torah study. We know that it does not mean Mitzvah observance. Perhaps it refers to Torah study? Why should we say that it means specifically toiling in Torah?

The Rebbe explains that Torah study is one of the 613 Mitzvos; hence it could not refer to simply learning Torah. Several words further it says “observe My commands, which already includes Torah study. It must mean a particular facet of learning. Therefore Rashi explains that it means toiling in the study of Torah; striving, sweating in order to come to a proper understanding of what the Torah means.

All Mitzvos can be performed according to the “letter of the law.” One can perform the bare minimum requirements and still fulfill his obligation. However in order to really be a servant of Hashem one must use all of his faculties in order to carry out G-d’s Will. Granted, by studying one chapter of Torah evening and morning one can fulfill Hashem’s commandment to study. However, that is not enough for one who realizes that Torah is his “reason for being.” It is only by toiling with every fiber of ones being that he expresses his true commitment to Torah.

The rewards listed here begin with (Vayikroh 26:4) “I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit…” They are increasingly greater, concluding with (Vayikroh 26:13) “…leading us upright” to the complete and true redemption through our righteous Moshiach. The only way to receive all of these rewards is by using our entire being to serve G-d Almighty!

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos and a happy and healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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