Parashas Bechukosai

In describing the blessing Hashem grants to those who follow His Torah, parashas Bechukosai begins with the words (Vayikra 26:3): “If you walk in My statutes.” The Midrash expounds (Vayikra Rabbah 35:1):
It is written (Tehillim 119:59): “I considered my ways, and I made my feet turn back to Your testimonies.” Said David: “Master of the Universe! Each and every day I make plans and say, ‘I am going to such-and-such a place,’ and my feet lead me to houses of prayer and houses of study.” Thus, “I made my feet turn back to Your testimonies.”
In analyzing this Midrash, the Maggid builds on the following Gemara (Berachos 14a):
Rav said: “If someone greets his friend before he has said his prayers it is as if he made him a high place (בָּמָה) [designated for idol worship], as it is written (Yeshayah 2:22), ‘Desist from man who has breath in his nostrils, for on what account (בַּמֶה) is he esteemed?’ Do not read בַּמֶה, but rather בָּמָה.” Shmuel interpreted: “On what account do you esteem this man and not God?”
The Maggid explains this Gemara with an analogy. Suppose a person usually does his shopping in a particular store, but one time the storekeeper sees him going out of another store carrying some merchandise. The storekeeper naturally will get upset, but the shopper can explain his actions by saying: “I needed an item that you do not carry, so I had to go to another store.” But if the store the shopper usually buys from carries every possible type of merchandise, the shopper cannot explain his actions in this way. The storekeeper will say: “What merchandise did you find in this other store that you cannot find in mine?”
Similarly, there is nothing in this world that cannot be accessed through Torah. Thus, the Midrash expounds elsewhere (Shemos Rabbah 33:1):
It is written (Mishlei 4:2): “For I have given you a good commodity; do not abandon My Torah.” Do not abandon the commodity I have given you. Sometimes a person buys merchandise that contains gold but not silver, or silver but not gold. The commodity I have given you, however, contains gold … and it contains silver …. Sometimes a person buys a tract of land that contains fields but not vineyards, or vineyards but not fields. The commodity I have given you, however, contains both fields and vineyards.
Hashem’s Torah is the mode of access for everything in the world. This is the idea behind Shmuel’s criticism of the person who greets his friend before saying his morning prayers: On what account do you esteem this man and not God? What can a person obtain from his friend that he cannot obtain from Hashem? David HaMelech’s statement in Vayikra Rabbah 35:1 is along the same lines. He is saying: “It is not only when I seek to connect with Hashem, learn His ways, and study His laws that I go to the house of study. Even when I seek to care for my physical needs, it is to the house of study that my heart and my feet take me, leading me to Hashem to seek His aid.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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