TAKING THE CONSEQUENCES — B’chukosai – end of Leviticus, and Jeremiah 16-17 — Torah blog by Rabbi Baruch Cohon
This week we read the dire warning called the Tochacha. Our section begins with the blessings to be earned by following Divine teachings, then details the consequences of violating those teachings. Significantly, the blessings occupy just 11 verses. The curses, 30. And this is not the only such warning in the Torah, not even the most complete one. That occurs in Deuteronomy where it covers 53 verses. So let’s leave discussion of those curses for next fall, and look at the Haftorah of this week.
The prophet whom my philosopher-daughter once called “my friend Jeremiah” is noted in Jewish history as the man who witnessed the defeat of his nation and the destruction of the Temple, yet could still sing of hope. It is Jeremiah who envisions a time when all nations will accept G-d and acknowledge Truth.
He charges the kingdom of Judah with the sins of idolatry, corruption and the vanity of confidence in mere humans. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man,” he says. “He shall be like a tamarisk in the desert, and shall not see when good comes. He will inhabit…a salt land not fit to dwell in.” And then the reverse: “Blessed is the man who trusts in G-d… He shall be like a tree planted by the river, he will not see when heat comes but his foliage is luxuriant; he will not worry even in a year of drought, but will not cease bearing fruit.” He goes on to urge his people to earn their wealth honestly, and he warns them that violating their G-d-given principles will bring them to a fool’s end. As their folly brought on their defeat, so their nobility can bring blessing. And he leaves us with the prayer that we now repeat daily: “Heal me, G-d, and I shall be healed. Save me and I shall be saved, for You are my glory.”
After all the defeats, we can still hope with Jeremiah for a fulfilled future.