Blog Behar Bechukotai 27 Iyar 5778 בלוג בְּהַר-בְּחֻקֹּתַי, כ”ז אייר תשע”ח
It is so important to me that I bring a message about Torah which will help us to be true “Shomer Torah” which means that we can apply the principles that we learn to our lives. Most people don’t want to read the book of Leviticus thinking that it contains a bunch of boring rules and regulations. The Creator doesn’t want to complicate our lives rather He wants to make our lives better. He never asks us for blind obedience but wants us to approach Him and have a dialogue with Him.
In Bechukotai we come to a very difficult section – the tokhechah – תֹכֵחָה-, the warnings. In the 80s when I began to work as a counselor, the notion of “tough love” began to emerge in reaction to teachings of Dr. Spock which had greatly influenced the parents of the 50s and 60s with his idea that discipline was bad for children, that it would destroy their free spirit. Today young parents still believe that lie, thinking that they can reason with their toddlers convincing them with words to do what is right. Mishlei (Proverbs) e.g. Prov. 13: 24 “He that spares his rod hates his son; but he that loves him corrects him diligently”. We show true love for our children when we correct them. It also says that a child who behaves poorly is a shame to their parents (Prov. 29:15). When a child is misbehaving, and the parents do nothing, they are doing a great disservice not only to their child but also to the community. When those children become adults, life’s lessons are a lot tougher for if they didn’t respect the authority of their parents, later on they won’t respect any authority. Parents are not friends; they are parents who are responsible to direct their children onto the right path. We are living in a time when every minority is fighting for its “rights”. We are being held hostage by these special interest groups who don’t understand that their rights end when our rights begin. The Creator is teaching us that Israel, just coming out of Egypt was like a baby that needed constant care, but they would have to learn to grow up. Babies can’t stay babies forever. The training begins at home. He began by teaching us what company to keep for He knew that we could be easily influenced.
When tough love began, it was because there were crises in so many families. The youth were getting out of control because the parents were not allowing them to grow up. They never learned to face the consequences of their actions, because the parents would constantly bail them out. Tough love is not easy to administer. That is what the tokhechah were about. The Creator warned us that He would withdraw His protection from us when we were disobedient. It is not that He was punishing us rather He would be allowing us to experience the consequences of our own actions. Yet in spite of our behavior, the Creator would never abandon His children. We read in Lev 26:43-45 “Abandoned, the country will keep its Sabbaths, as it lies deserted in their absence, and they will have to accept the punishment for their guilt, since they detested my ordinances and rejected my statutes. Yet, in spite of all this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I shall not so utterly reject or detest them as to destroy them completely and break my covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. For their sake I shall remember the covenant I made with those first generations that I brought out of Egypt while other nations watched, so that I should be their God, I, the LORD.”
And Jeremiah 31: 35, 36 says: “If these ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever. Thus, says the LORD: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done.”
Our Creator is faithful to the end. We are the ones who fail. It is time we apply tough love even toward ourselves. It is time that we stop allowing others to abuse us. We are each responsible for our behavior. If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we respect our neighbor and our Creator. As Shomer Torah we have a very important role to fulfill. It is not about the externals but about the heart, kavanah, our intentions. The written Torah, the basic Ten Commandments live within us. As I mentioned, everything begins in the home. When we have small children, let’s be careful what we teach them. Our actions speak louder than words. Are we good parents or parents who don’t care about the behavior of our children? When we are permissive, liberal parents, we neither care about our children or our community.
The Creator doesn’t want us to remain children all our lives; He, does not expect us to be total dependent upon Him! He gave us the tools to become strong, independent adults capable of making decisions on our own and to be responsible for them. We need to do the same with our children. This is what He is showing us with the story of Israel whom He took as babies out of Egypt and slowly weaned away from idolatry, providing them manna in the desert until they were able to provide for themselves once they reached the Promised Land. He promises that He will never forsake us, but He will show tough love whenever it is needed so that we can become responsible adults who can serve the greater community. Today Israel is on the brink of another major war. Is tough love being applied to Israel today for her disobedience to her calling? No matter what, the Creator will never leave nor forsake Israel.
The full message can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsavrocxQbQ