(Photo: lev-lalev.org) (Photo: lev-lalev.org)
Living Torah
Living Torah

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Living Torah portion is Bechukotai, meaning “My Laws” (Leviticus 26:3–27:3), and it is here that God promises us many blessings if we follow in His ways and observe His mitzvot (commandments).

Although somewhat uncomfortable to read, Bechukotai also includes a list of curses for those who brazenly disregard the Torah. (Of course, United with Israel doesn’t have a single supporter who brazenly disregards the Torah, and so we have nothing to worry about!)

The commentators note that the section of Bechukotai that discusses the curses is much longer than the section with the blessings. To be exact: There are more than 30 verses dealing with the curses, while only about 10 concern blessings. This could seem disturbing, since we know that God’s goodness is much stronger than His desire to punish! God is the most merciful and compassionate loving father!

So what’s going on here?

(I am only going to share with you an explanation as to why the blessings are brief. I don’t want to get into the curses too much. As mentioned, it’s not relevant to us!)

Every Small Blessing is from God and Should be Appreciated

So why are the blessings so brief? One of the answers offered is that blessings and, by extension, God’s promises sometimes need to be “to the point” in order for us to appreciate that they are from Him. Whether it is our health, wealth or a convenient parking space that becomes available seconds before we pull into the mall parking lot – they are all blessings from God. We don’t always realize it or appreciate it.

Living Torah

Living Torah: That suddenly-available parking space is a blessing from God! (Gail Shotlander Photography)

Even the small blessings must be recognized! This is why the verses with the blessing are so brief: Blessings should not need elaboration! We must appreciate even those that are small. Anything good comes from Him!

So, too, on a related note, we need to realize that God seeks “excuses” to bless us whenever possible. His blessings are always there for the taking.

To illustrate: when hiring a tailor to make a suit or gown, he or she is paid only when the garment is ready to be worn. The tailor is not paid before the job is complete, nor is he or she compensated if the product is defective. It must be a perfect final product. We don’t care how much effort the tailor put into the task, how much money was laid out for the materials or how good the intentions may have been for completing the job on time. If the product isn’t perfect, the tailor does not get paid.

When it comes to God, however, He “pays” whenever possible! He rewards us for effort! He pays for good intentions! He doesn’t necessarily care what the final product is. He wants to bestow blessings upon us. Only with God does the thought count. Period.

Living Torah

Small things of beauty are blessings that should be acknowledged.

We also see good things coming in small packages, as the saying goes. When Moses’s sister Miriam was ill, he prayed for her by uttering a mere five words. One might have expected Moses to spend hours praying for Miriam’s recovery, but he was very brief in his prayer.

And on a contemporary note, when God wanted to expand the State of Israel to four times its size and to allow the Jewish people to redeem and unify Jerusalem, He did it in a mere six days – the 1967 war. Brief is good!

We don’t need the Torah to elaborate on blessings. In fact, it would have been enough if the Torah had merely said, “And God will bless you for serving him” – and no more.

We, too, can be brief when thanking Him. He doesn’t need elaboration. He appreciates every small gesture.

So the next time something good happens to you, remember that it is a blessing from God and be sure to say: “Baruch Hashem” – “Blessed is God!”