While there may be “thin line” between love and hate when it comes to people, God’s love is forever!
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion in Israel is Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3–27:34) and it is not known as one of the more inviting or enjoyable Torah portions to study. Not least of all, Bechukotai contains what is known as “tochacha,” which consist of explicitly and frightening warnings of the consequences when Jewish people don’t observe the Torah.
These verses predict all kinds of punishment and suffering, and all of the curses found in this week’s reading have unfortunately been fulfilled. From the inquisitions to the pogroms, from the Cossacks to the Holocaust, from expulsions to the Crusades, all of the tragedies predicted in this week’s reading have occurred.
I would like to think that God doesn’t “fulfill” such tragedies more than once, and therefore such tragedies are history, never to befall us again. Indeed, the founding of the State of Israel marks the beginning of the redemption and all the prophecies regarding the messianic era.
Before the curses for not observing the Torah appear, a short passage enumerates the many wonderful blessings in store for those who do observe the Torah. Among these blessings is God’s promise to “place [His] Dwelling in your midst.” Sounds great! We get to feel God among us! However, that same verse which tells us that God will dwell in our midst ends with the words “and I will not despise you.”
This verse doesn’t make much sense! The first part tells us how much God loves us, while the conclusion explains He will not despise us?! It’s like a boy proposing to a girl by telling her, “I am going to love you, I am going to cherish you, I am going to take care of you,” then adding, “and I am not going to despise you or be disgusted by you.”
That would certainly put a damper on the moment!
What’s going on over here?
It is explained that when two people are in love they glow. Cloud nine. Heaven. However, there is hardly a more venomous fight known to humanity than when such people divorce. The two people hate each other to the point they are disgusted by one another. As they say, “There is no greater hatred than love spurned.”
Perhaps this verse is telling us that although God loves us, he knows that we won’t always be faithful to him (hence the curses that follow!) but nevertheless, the “divorce” – the exile from the Land of Israel – will not be the typical bitter divorce.
Even when God has to divorce us, He will never hate us or despise us.
Now the verse makes sense. To know that God will love us no matter how far we stray is certainly a great blessing!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below:
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“…for the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land… a land of wheat and barley, vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8)