Parashas Bechukosai

This week’s parashah begins with the following words (Vayikra 26:3-4): “If you follow My statutes, and observe My commandments and perform them – I shall then provide your rains in their proper time: the land shall give forth its produce and the trees of the field shall give forth their fruit.” Note that Rashi interprets the phrase “follow My statutes” as referring to arduous Torah study.
The Maggid comments on the above passage as follows. In the physical realm, there are activities – such as eating – that can be either beneficial or harmful, depending on circumstances. If a person eats a given food at the proper time, in the proper quantity, and with the proper quality, the food will nourish him. But if any of the necessary conditions is missing, the food will cause him harm. The same is true, the Maggid says, in the realm of mitzvos. Each mitzvah involves certain conditions: to the time for performing it, the intent necessary when performing it, and the specific details of how to perform it. If one of the conditions is violated, the putative mitzvah act could actually become a transgression.
There are two ways in which a person can lapse in regard to a mitzvah. One type of lapse is not to do the mitzvah at all. When a person disregards a mitzvah, Hashem withholds entirely the blessing associated with doing the mitzvah: “He shall shut up the heavens, and there shall be no rain.” The other type of lapse is to perform the mitzvah improperly. This is just like eating improperly. The food is taken in, but it causes harm instead of benefit. In the same way, when a person performs a mitzvah improperly, Hashem sends down His blessing under the wrong conditions; for example, He sends down rain in the wrong place or at the wrong time. (This probably serves to call a person’s attention to his errors.) Thus, one must study Torah arduously to learn how to perform the mitzvos properly. If one studies properly, and performs the mitzvos properly, then one’s mitzvah acts bring benefit: the rains come in their proper time, and the land and the trees produce as they should.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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