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Thursday, June 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Bechukosai

Today, 25 Iyar is the yahrtzeit of my mother. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Tzirel Nechama bas Tovia Yehuda.


Tuesday, 23 Iyar was the yahrtzeit of my great aunt, Lady Amélie Jakobovits. This week's shtikle is also dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Mayla bas Eliyahu.


Finally, a simchah that failed to make it in for the last couple of weeks: Mazal Tov to my niece, Rochel Leah Shonek and the entire Shonek / Bulka family on her recent engagement to Shua Greenwald of Lakewood.


This week's parsha begins with the promise of the blessings for those who follow the ways of the Torah. There are two conditions given: im bechukosai teileichu, and es mitzvosai tishmeru. Rashi's comment is a common subject for Bechukosai discussion. Bechukosai teileichu refers to toiling in the study of Torah. However, we must certainly be sure to toil enough to realize that there are in fact two conditions. Indeed, there is only one instance of the word im, if, in the pasuk. This would appear to indicate that one must accomplish both conditions to be deserving of the blessings. We must toil in the study of Torah but also fulfill the mitzvos diligently. Contrarily, the mirroring pasuk which introduces the curses contains two instances of im. If we falter in either of these two categories, there are grave consequences.


 To put it in computer logic terms for those for whom it is helpful:


if ((bechukosai_teileichu) && (mitzvosai_tishmeru))



    getKelalos(); // Chas veShalom


However, even if one is able to accomplish the two conditions, there is still a delicate balance that must be met. This is where the haftarah connects with the parsha. In Pirkei Avos, Perek 3 (Mishna 17) R' Elazar ben Azaria teaches what is arguably the paradigmatic lesson of all of Pirkei Avos. One whose wisdom and knowledge is greater than his deeds is like a tree whose branches are greater than its roots, lacking support and easily toppled over. One whose deeds are greater, however, is like a tree whose roots are greater in number than its branches, providing support against all sorts of nasty conditions. The pesukim used to illustrate this are from this week's haftarah (Yirmiyahu 17:5-8). "And he shall be as a tree by the waters..." What I find puzzling is that the Navi is clearly contrasting someone who puts his trust in man with someone who places his trust solely in HaShem. R' Elazar ben Azaria seems to borrow this imagery from its clear application in Tana"ch and apply it to one whose deeds are greater than his wisdom. Nevertheless, these pesukim, as understood by R' Elazar ben Azaria, establish a direct connection between the parsha and the haftarah.

Chazak, Chazak, veNischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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