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Shabbat 16 May 2015 – PARASHA BECHUKOTAI

Shabbat comes in at 8.21pm & goes out at 9.33pm

Parshat Bechukotai opens with the peculiar phrase, “If you walk in My laws and faithfully observe My mitzvot . . .”

It is possible to “obey” a law, to “observe” a law, or to “uphold” a law.  But the Torah doesn’t use any of those words, choosing instead the grammatically awkward “walk” in the law.

That’s because Halakhah is more than a law.  It represents the attempt of the Jewish people to concretize a G-dly way of life.   G-d wants us to choose the law as our own.  In the words of the Mishnah:  “Make G-d’s will your will.”  Or, as the Talmud puts it,  “G-d wants the heart.”

Rabbi Levi, of Midrash Vayikrah Rabbah, teaches that religious law, unlike governmental law, is not content merely regulating externals and defining propriety.  The goal of Halachah must be to strengthen that inner sense of right, that drive to do good, that inner longing for justice that exists in the human heart.

By adopting the Torah as our path in life, by allowing it to permeate our hearts beyond the limits of mere law, we choose a path of life and of holiness that can illumine our homes, our families and our communities.

Rabbi Paul Arberman

May 13, 2015