Behukotai - Good Thoughts

If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them,  I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit.
 . אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם. וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ
Vayikra 26:3-4
The Kedushat Levi asserts that the opening phrase is seemingly superfluous "If you follow My statutes" (אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ), that the parsha could have started with "If you observe My commandments...I will give your rains...". So what purpose does this phrase serve?

Power of Thought
We can understand this by looking at the concept intending to do a mitzvah as described in the Gemorrah Kiddushin:
Good intention is combined with deed, for it is said: Then they that feared the L-rd spoke one with another: and the L-rd hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the L-rd, and that thought upon his name. Now, what is the meaning of ‘that thought upon his name’? — Said R. Assi: Even if one [merely] thinks of performing a commandment but is forcibly prevented the Torah ascribes it to him as though he has performed it.
Kiddushin 40A
We learn that making a sincere effort to perform a mitzvah, but being legitimately prevented, can still be counted as having performed. So all the more so, for one who succeeds in fulfilling a mitzvah. It fills the doer with a sense of accomplishment, driving one forward to perform more mitzvot. This underlies the concept of 'mitzvah gorreret mitzvah' - a mitzvah leads to another, raising one up to higher levels of spirituality. It is a  'מהלך' - a process.

Power of Learning
This explanation sheds light on the piece in the very last mesechet in 'Shas' on the very last page, on the last line, we have this teaching (Nidah 73A).
The Tanna debe Eliyahu  [teaches]: Whoever repeats (or learns)  halachot every day can rest assured that he will have a place in the world to come, for it is said:
He standeth, and shaketh the earth, He beholdeth, and maketh the nations to tremble; and the everlasting mountains are dashed in pieces, the ancient hills do bow; His goings (halichot) are as of old
  עָמַד וַיְמֹדֶד אֶרֶץ, רָאָה וַיַּתֵּר גּוֹיִם, וַיִּתְפֹּצְצוּ הַרְרֵי-עַד, שַׁחוּ גִּבְעוֹת עוֹלָם; הֲלִיכוֹת עוֹלָם, לוֹ
Habakuk 3:6
Read not halichot (goings)  but halachot (laws).
We see that a regular schedule of learning can ensure a place in the world to come. So from what we learned before, even intending to fulfill the mitzvah of learning but being legitimately prevented, can bring one to the world to come.

Intention is Like Doing
This is the purpose of the opening phrase of this parshah -  "If you follow My statutes" (אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ) - that it is the same root as we just discussed. ללכת - מהלך - הליכות - These are all words with their root in walking. What is special about the words of the parshah is that the words "תלכו" and "תשמרו" are in the future tense, like a person who intends to do something, followed by a phrase in the past "ועשית אותם" - and they were done.

So we can see that having the right intentions, no matter what stands in your way can ensure reward, even the ultimate reward - a place in the world to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment