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Friday, May 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Behar / Behcukosai

Today marks the yahrtzeit of my great aunt, Lady Amélie Jakobovits, a"h. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Mayla bas Eliyahu.

This coming Sunday, 25 Iyar, marks the yahrtziet of my mother, a"h. The shtikle is dedicated as well le'iluy nishmasah, Tzirel Nechama bas Tovia Yehudah.

Parshas Behar deals largely with the laws pertaining to the shemitah and yoveil years. The Torah addresses the understandable worry of the farmer who is forced to leave his field fallow for an entire year. "Lest you shall say what will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow nor gather in our crops!. I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year and it shall bring forth produce for the three years." (25:20-21) This is, indeed, quite a valuable guarantee. [Although the haftarah we read is that of Bechukosai, these two parshios are usually together. It is therefore fitting that the haftarah contains the famous pasuk, (Yirmiyah 17:7) "baruch hagever asher yivtach baShem."

My grandfather, Mr. George Jakobovits, a"h, told me of an intriguing insight that he heard from his rebbe, R' Eliyahu Lopian, zt"l, which is pertinent to this passage and especially relevant to the events of our time. He points out that we, as Jews are commanded as part of the thirteen principles of faith, to believe in the coming of mashiach and the resurrection of the dead. Yet the gemara in the last perek of Sanhedrin struggles to identify a passage that directly and irrefutably refers to this time. Why is it, then, that our Bible contains a precious few obscure references to the world to come while containing many more clear, this-worldly promises such as the aforementioned? Conversely, the "testament" of our Christian counterparts is replete with distinct references to the world to come.

He answers that a promise for the world to come is one that can never be refuted. No one will ever be able to come back and say that the Bible lied about reward and punishment after death, God forbid. This renders these promises empty and meaningless on their own. The promises that offer us assurance in this world, such as the guarantees of shemitah and yoveil, and the promise that no enemy will covet our land when we leave it to go up to Yerushalayim for the shalosh regalim (Shemos 34:24), are far more "risky" pledges. If they are not fulfilled, God forbid, their falsehood would be revealed for all to see.

The world to come is discussed in great length in the gemara and we are required to believe it. However, blind faith is not demanded of us. The very first words of Rambam's Yad HaChazakah state that the foundation of foundations and the pillar of all wisdom, is to know that there is a God who preceded all existence. This is a far greater level than faith. It is unequivocal knowledge. The hypothetically refutable, yet incontrovertibly authentic promises made in the Torah are part of foundation that allows to know, not believe, that there is a Divine Hand that governs this world. The architects of Christianity, aware of the fraudulence of their treatise, were unable to make such promises and had to resort to empty promises which, although lofty, could never be disproved in this world. This perhaps offers some insight into the diabolic schemes of those who promote heinous, murderous atrocities by means of such empty promises as we have seen in our day. But this perspective allows us to maintain focus on the truth of our Torah.

Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Life as we Know It 
Dikdukian: Hearing Los
Dikdukian: How Lo Can You Go?
Dikdukian: Even Lo-er

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