SALT - Friday, 19 Iyar 5776, Omer 34 - May 27, 2016

  • Rav David Silverberg

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This week's SALT shiurim are dedicated in memory of
David Moshe ben Harav Yehuda Leib Silverberg z"l,
whose yahrzeit is Thursday 18 Iyar, May 26
.

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            Parashat Bechukotai begins with God’s promising reward “if You walk in accordance with My statutes, observe My commandments and perform them.”  Rashi, citing Chazal, famously explains the opening phrase, “Im be-chukotai teileikhu,” as referring not to mitzva observance, but rather to intensive Torah study.  In Rashi’s words, “she-tiheyu ameilim ba-Torah” – “that you toil in Torah [study].”

            The Klausenberger Rebbe suggested associating this interpretation with God’s emphasis in this verse on the observance of “My statutes” and “My commandments.”  If we do not study Torah with the proper intensity, the Rebbe explained, then even if we sincerely wish to serve the Almighty, we will be unable to fulfill His laws; instead, we will follow our intuitive sense of what He wants us to do and how He wants us to live.  Without ameilut ba-Torah – serious engagement in Torah learning – we will end up fulfilling “our” mitzvot, practices that we come up with on our own, as opposed to the true will of God.  The Rebbe adds that for this reason the verse concludes, “va-asitem otam” – “and you perform them.”  The emphasis here is on the actual mitzvot, the values and laws that God truly wants us to uphold, in contrast to the values and laws that we might devise and then presume to reflect the divine will.  Serious engagement in Torah study is necessary to ensure that we understand what God truly wants of us, so we do not determine our values and the proper mode of conduct based on our own intuition or foreign value systems, and instead follow the authentic will of our Creator.