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broken heart

Even when we stray, God never stops wanting to be “remarried” to us.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is “Bechukotai” (Leviticus 26:3-27:34) which means “with my laws…” The portion’s theme is that those who observe the mitzvot of the Torah will be rewarded, while those who don’t will be punished.

There is a second such reference in Deuteronomy.

Whether or not such punishments and rewards are still “active” nowadays is a discussion of its own, but the curses for failing to observe the Torah certainly are graphic.

Even if the system of individual punishments is not as active as it once was, the Jewish people as a whole have certainly suffered the words of the curses found in this week’s reading. Famines, disease, extermination, parents eating children – it’s all there and it’s all happened.

But before we read the curses there are words of blessing. And among all the material blessings promised for those who observe the mitzvot of the Torah is the promise “And I will place my sanctuary in your midst…and I will not be disgusted by you.”

In other words, God promises to dwell among us.

But the question is asked: Is this verse we just quoted a proper way to end a passage all about various kinds of blessing? God promises us this and that, and some of that, and some of this, and then concludes with the words, “and I will not be disgusted by you.”

Talk about ruining the mood! Imagine saying that as part of one’s “wedding vows.” It doesn’t really fit it in as a conclusion of a whole lists of blessings. What’s going on?

It is explained that when two people are in love, they could use a bench as their bed if necessary. But when a couple divorces, sometimes an entire city isn’t big enough for the two of them to live in.

As the Talmud says: “When our love was strong, we could have slept on the blade of a sword, but now that our love is not strong there is no bed in the world that is big enough to hold us both.” There is generally no relationship more bitter than that of a divorced couple.

But God is different.

Even when we sin and God “divorces” us, He never stops loving us. He never stops wanting to be “remarried.” He is always ready to take us back when we return to Him and His Torah. God had to kick us out of our Holy Land, but He also brought us back like He promised.

Unlike other situations of divorce, He will never be disgusted by us! And that may indeed be the greatest blessing that God could give us.