Torah Commentary

Seeking a Shared Dream, a Shared Path, a Shared Fate

June 1, 2019Rabbi Ben Spratt

The mathematician Steven Strogatz writes:Father and son on a path in the mountains

At the heart of the universe is a steady, insistent beat; the sound of cycles in sync. It pervades nature at every scale from the nucleus to the cosmos. Every night along the tidal rivers

Love Is Not Enough: The Demands of Relationship with God

June 4, 2016Elyse Goldstein

Another name for this week's Torah portion is Parashat HaToch'chah — the portion of reproach. It contains a list of curses so terrible that traditionally the Torah reader chants them quickly and in a hushed tone so as not to call attention to them. And no one wants that aliyah! The curses are the punishment for disobedience, and they must have truly struck fear in the hearts of our ancestors.

The curses come just after the promise of blessing — if we follow God's ways. Rain in abundance, good crops, peace, victory, and fertility are all ours if, as the portion begins, ". . . you walk in my statutes and guard my commandments and do them" (Leviticus 26:3). We might mistakenly feel the parashah is about the classic "reward and punishment." But I see it differently. I see it as an apt closing for the Book of Leviticus, which began with a call to relationship — Vayikra — and ends again with a call to relationship. God's message can be interpreted as, "If you are a true partner with Me then our relationship will be healthy, but if you ignore Me, spite Me, hurt Me, and leave Me, how can we possibly go on together?"

Reflection in Multiple Ways

May 17, 2014Robert Tornberg

Parashat B'chukotai is the final Torah portion in the Book of Leviticus. Here we have learned, perhaps more than we ever wanted to know about the statutes, rules, and details of the work of the kohanim, the priests, and

B'chukotai for Tots

October 9, 2012Ellen and Peter Allard

Why are both blessings and curses included in Parashat B'chukotai? Questions and ideas for children and adults to discuss.