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Shabbat Parashat Bechukotai 5774

Parashat Hashavua: What Remains?

(an address from 1944)

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul, p. 352-3

Towards the end of the tocheicha (section of rebuke), after describing the horrors that will befall the Jewish People if they sin, the Torah writes: “And even with this, when they will be in the land of their enemies, I will not be disgusted by them nor cast them off to destroy them” (Vayikra 26:44). What of significance will be left of Bnei Yisrael at that point in regard to which it will help that Hashem will not reject them? After all, every good thing we received will have been taken by then! The answer is that that which will remain is the sefer Torah (Yalkut Shimoni, Bechukotai 675).

What do we have remaining in our times? What point is left in our lives? What value does all our rebuilding of the Land have if all the source of the spirit of our nation has been destroyed cruelly with uncontrolled hatred? Is there value to our hopes and our lives? Are we allowed to enjoy anything? Are we not dancing over graves? The one comfort that was and is – is this Torah.

If all good things have been taken from us and smashed cruelly along with the lives of millions of Jews, there is one thing that not only have the enemies not managed to take, but to a certain extent, they have even returned to us somewhat. Certainly they did not do so in a gentle way, but they returned it to us nonetheless. There was a time when the nations claimed that their culture and values are nicer than our Torah. Now, amidst the violence that is being perpetrated, that which we have known all along is clear to everyone. Our appearance, which suffered in recent times, has been restored. Civilization, which is divided between murderers and those who watch the blood being spilled with cynicism, chutzpah, and coarseness, cannot engender a good world.

No, we do not agree with them. Our souls cannot accept a person who acts like a lion or a bear. We believe in a mankind that has a divinely given soul, which has more than lowly instincts. This belief brings us to the Creator of the world and its Leader. It cannot be any other way.

If so, then matters are different than they appear. We must not allow our spirits to be deflated under the torture we are suffering. If those who go against Hashem can seem to be succeeding, imagine the ultimate reward of those who do His bidding. And if those who follow His ways are afflicted, imagine what will happen to those who fight Hashem (see Bereishit Rabba 65:22). We will have to have patience of steel, grit our teeth, and look forward to brighter days. We have the Torah, and we know the source of the hatred towards us. We know why we are suffering and that the days of redemption will come.

“‘In the way of My statutes you will go’ – this refers to the rules with which the heavens and the earth were created” (see Vayikra Rabba 35:4). The rules of the Torah are eternal, and the world will be built upon them. And if we do not understand the steps the world is undergoing at this preliminary stage, eventually everything will be clarified and visible.
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