Torah Weekly

For the week ending 16 May 2015 / 27 Iyyar 5775

Parshat Bechukotai

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
Become a Supporter Library Library


The Torah promises prosperity for the Jewish People if they follow G-d's commandments. However, if they fail to live up to the responsibility of being the Chosen People, then chilling punishments will result. The Torah details the harsh historical process that will fall upon them when Divine protection is removed. These punishments, whose purpose is to bring the Jewish People to repent, will be in seven stages, each more severe than the last. Sefer Vayikra, the book of Leviticus, concludes with the details of erachin – the process by which someone vows to give the Beit Hamikdash the equivalent monetary value of a person, an animal or property.


Hidden Miracles

"If you walk in My laws…" (26:3)

The purpose of this world is to be factory to produce a product called “Olam Haba” — the World-to-Come.

That is our only target, and the mitzvot our only passport.

However, you can read the Torah from cover to cover and you won’t find one specific promise about the reward for keeping the mitzvot in the next world. Promises of reward in this world abound. We are promised the rains in their time; the land will give its produce and the trees will bear fruit; there will be an abundance of food that we will eat to satiety. We will dwell securely in our Land. No one will walk down a dark street and be frightened. No one will worry about sending their children off on the bus in the morning. There will be abundance and peace.

Why is it that the Torah makes no open promises about the reward for keeping the mitzvot in the next world, but is replete with details of their reward in this existence?

All reward and punishment in this world is through hidden miracles. When a person eats a bacon-cheeseburger and dies prematurely, nobody knows that he died because he ate a bacon-cheeseburger. People die at his age even when they don’t eat bacon-cheeseburgers. They die younger.

A person gives tzedaka and becomes rich. You don’t see that he became rich because he gave tzedaka. There are plenty of rich people who don’t give tzedaka and yet become rich by receiving an inheritance or winning the sweepstake. The hidden miracle is that a person who wasn’t destined to become rich or wasn’t supposed to die young, but because he gave tzedaka or because he ate the bacon-cheeseburger, G-d changed this person’s destiny. It’s miraculous, but it’s hidden. It looks like nature, but if it were actually the work of nature, then nothing that a person did in this world could have any effect on himself. For a person is born under a certain mazal, a certain destiny, and without the intervention of an outside force, the hidden miracle, nothing that a person did, whether for good or bad, would have any repercussions in this world.

That’s why the Torah speaks at great length about the outcome of the performance (or non-performance) of the mitzvot in this world. For it is truly miraculous that our actions should affect anything in this world, a world that, aside from these hidden miracles, is run by a system of mazal and nature.

However, as far as the next world is concerned, it’s obvious that our actions will have repercussions there. The Torah doesn’t need to stress the reward and punishment in that existence because it’s obvious that people who engage in spiritual pursuits and serve G-d faithfully should receive spiritual rewards. But it is certainly not natural that people who are immersed in the work of the spirit, the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot, should receive their reward in this world as well. Therefore, the Torah stresses the reward for keeping the mitzvot in this world, because that is something that no one could surmise without being told of its existence.

  • Source: Ramban on the Parsha and at the beginning of Parshat Va’era

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions

« Back to Torah Weekly

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.