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Blessings & Curses

אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְו‍ֹתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם:

If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them (Vaykira 26:2)


It’s interesting that in Behar - Bechukotai, the passuk about following God’s commandments seem to be repetitive and use double language. Why would the Torah have to state both אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ and וְאֶת־מִצְו‍ֹתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם: Don’t both mean the same thing?


Rashi explains that the first part, אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ refers to working hard to learn Torah and learn about the Mitzvot. The second part וְאֶת־מִצְו‍ֹתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם: is the actual fullfilment of mitzvot. In other words, one should learn Torah so that he will then be able to properly fulfill all the mitzvot. Learning and doing go hand in hand.


The Torah then goes on to explain the rewards for following the Torah and fulfilling the mitzvot, such as receiving the proper amount of rain at the proper time, fertile crops, peace in the land, victory over your enemies, and more.


Next, the Torah uses parallel language to describe what happens if the Jewish people do not follow the Torah and observe mitzvot.


וְאִם־לֹ֥א תִשְׁמְע֖וּ לִ֑י וְלֹ֣א תַֽעֲשׂ֔וּ אֵ֥ת כָּל־הַמִּצְוֹ֖ת הָאֵֽלֶּה: וְאִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֣י תִּמְאָ֔סוּ וְאִ֥ם אֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֖י תִּגְעַ֣ל נַפְשְׁכֶ֑ם לְבִלְתִּ֤י עֲשׂוֹת֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְו‍ֹתַ֔י לְהַפְרְכֶ֖ם אֶת־בְּרִיתִֽי:

But if you do not listen to Me and do not perform all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes and reject My ordinances, not performing any of My commandments, thereby breaking My covenant. (Vayikra 26:14-15)


The same double language is used here, about rejecting laws and failing to perform mitzvot. Obviously, this refers to not learning Torah, and then subsequently not fulfilling the commanded mitzvot.


But the language here is a little stronger. Rashi explains that this is not just about not studying and doing, but about despising Torah and Mitzvot, despising the sages, and even going so far as preventing others from fulfilling mitzvot.


It seems that it is much simpler to please God by learning Torah and doing mitzvot, but much harder to do the opposite. In order to receive the curses that follow these psukkim in the Torah, you have to go beyond not fulfilling mitzvot. You would have to actively reject Torah and mitzvot, and even go so far as to make others do the same. Thus, we can conclude that God makes it easier for us to be rewarded than punished. May we all receive the brachot in this parsha, and none of the curses!

שבת שלום

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