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The Weekly Aliyot of the Parsha - Bechukosai

Parsha Bechukosai is often combined into a double parsha with parsha Behar, which we read last week, but this year we are reading parsha Bechukosai alone.

  • In the first aliyah Rashi says the words "Im Bechukosai" refers to the study of Torah. This aliyah promises blessings for studying Torah for the purpose of learning the commandments, and then doing them. The blessings include plenty of food, and rain at the proper time, peace from enemies, and from beasts. 

  • The second aliyah continues the blessings for Torah study and practice which was begun in the previous aliyah. Here the Torah says five of us will chase 100 enemies; 100 of us will chase 10,000 enemies.

  • In the third aliyah, the first four lines complete the promise of blessings of the last few aliyot, but then the aliyah talks about severe, terrifying punishments if the Jewish people reject G-d's chukos (statutes) and mishpatim (ordinances) and if we don't do His mitzvahs. Rashi counts seven transgressions corresponding to seven punishments. The seven progressive transgressions are: failure to study Torah, failure to do the commandments, rejecting others that do the commandments, hating the sages, preventing others from observing, denying the divine origin of the commandments, denying the existence of G-d. Rashi says that each of these sins leads to the next.

    The punishments described here include terrible famine and exile. The Torah says that our land will lie in desolation and finally will be paid its rest that it didn't have when we didn't keep the Sabbath of the land.

    But the aliyah ends with G-d's promise that He will remember us in the land of our enemies, and not break his covenant by destroying us utterly.

  • The fourth aliyah discusses endowments of money to the temple expressed as values of people, animals, and real estate. That is to say, a person may vow that he will give the value of himself to the temple. This aliyah describes what monetary values are to be used for men and women of different ages, and for animals and houses. An endowment of someone or something is considered as if that person or thing itself was given to the temple. The Midrash contains a story of a judge Yiftach who vowed that if he wins the war, whatever comes out of his house he will sacrifice to G-d. Unfortunately his daughter came out. He was ignorant of the Torah, he should have known that he could endow her value instead, but he didn't know.

  • The fifth aliyah discusses endowments of a field to the temple.

  • The sixth aliyah states that the money of all these endowments is to be used for repairs to the Bais Hamikdash, may it be speedily rebuilt in our days, Amen.

  • The seventh aliyah discusses the tithe of animals, where every tenth newborn animal is to be brought as a sacrifice to the Temple, the meat of which is then given to the owners and their guests to eat.

  • This is the conclusion of Sefer Vayikra, which began with parshas Vayikra several weeks ago. In that parsha G-d called Moshe to the Mishkan for the first time after it was built and began the installation of the priests and the laws of their service in the Mishkan. This book of the Torah is also known as Toras Kohanim (Law of the Kohanim) because most of the laws that we've seen over the last few weeks have been about the Kohanim either directly or indirectly.




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