Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Bechukosai (Leviticus 26-27)
26:14 And if you don’t listen to Me and don’t do all of these commandments.
26:43 And the land (of Israel) will be abandoned from them (no longer living there) and it will be appeased for its sabbatical (years that were not fully observed by the Jewish people) and they will seek to gain appeasement for their iniquity. (This will occur) because they shunned My laws and their spirit loathed My statutes.
26:44 And even so, I did not shun or loath them while they were (exiled) in the lands of their enemies, to (cause) their complete destruction, to annul My covenant with them, for I am Hashem their G-D.
26:45 And I will remember for them the covenant of the antient (ancestors) whom I brought out from the Land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations to be for them a G-D. I am G-D.
The Talmud says that verses 26:14 through 26:43 delineate many grave calamities (Bava Basra 88b).
Here, the scripture warns that will occur if the Jewish people will not fully observe the sabbatical years. Chronicles II 36:21 reinforces this by stating that we were exiled for seventy years to make up for the years that the sabbatical years were not observed.
In contrast, the Talmud states that the tragedies, which includes the destruction of the First Temple, occurred because Jewish people transgressed the three cardinal sins: idolatry, adultery, and bloodshed.
Of the three, a cursory reading of the Prophets gives the impression that the dominant cause was idolatry.
There were apparently several root causes. Why does the Torah list here only one?
We also note that the Torah warns of the tragedies intensifying when the Jewish people walk with G-D, which is good, but in an incidental way (verses 21, 23, 27, and 40).
The following came to mind.
In speaking about the origins of idolatry, the Droshos Haran (9) says that ancients founded idolatry upon the notion that because of His supreme greatness, G-D did not involve Himself with minutiae. He therefore distanced Himself with managing the day to day affairs of mankind and assigned that job to a bunch of ‘micro-gods.’
(I assume that the con-artists that promoted this baloney gained personally from hawking their theologies.)
According to them, history, current events, and the affairs of mankind were chaotic churn, subject to the whims of gods and accident. It was therefore up to people to seize control of their fate by appeasing the gods (and their ‘esteemed’ spiritual consults) to steer things their way.
The miraculous events of the Exodus demonstrated to all the falsehood of idolatry and its basis. G-D gave mankind one great opportunity to see that He is in control of our fate. His involvement can become visible when He wants it to be. Therefore, for example, a Jew and an Egyptian used separate straws to drink from a cup. The Jew sipped water and the Egyptian sipped blood.
Only One who is in control, all capable, constantly aware, involved, and supportive can expect an entire nation to make do by working one day less a week by ceasing heir farming every seven years. Furthermore, the Torah guarantees that the food that is grown during the year preceding the sabbatical year will last for many years.
Those who fear economic and food supply consequences and disregard these laws are seizing control of their fate, somewhat similar to what the idol worshipers did. They are saying that they don’t want to risk relying on One whose presence is not always visible when we need or want him. Those who view G-D as being with us in an incidental way will develop an incidental relationship with Him.
We can thus understand that idolatry and not observing the sabbatical laws share a common flaw.