Why does the Tochecha precede Shavuos?
Why do such fearsome days as these precede the Geulah Shelemah?
Let’s try to understand.
Since the petira of Saar ha Torah Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky zt”l, our Arab cousins in Israel have gone on a rampage, attacking Yidden in a savage manner.
It is shocking to read Parshas Bechukosai. Everything is spelled out. Even a cursory glance at this week’s parsha reveals exactly what is happening in our world. It is clearly spelled out that punishments come to us in exact measure for our own actions.
The Torah is telling us this; these are not my words.
It is vital to our survival to absorb these powerful lessons. The truth is that we are not listening well. That is why the world is in this mess. And that is why, it seems, the punishments are intensifying. Doesn’t the Tochecha tell us explicitly, “If you behave casually with Me and refuse to heed Me, then I shall lay a further blow upon you….” (Vayikra 26:21)
As Chazal tell us, “If they do not repent … Hakadosh Baruch Hu will appoint a king over them whose decrees will be as harsh as [those of] Haman, and the Jewish People will repent, and [in this way] G-d will bring them back to the right [path].” (Sanhedrin 97b)
My friends, Hashem Himself is telling us with shocking clarity exactly what is happening to us and exactly why it is happening. The entire Golus, everything that is happening in every part of the world is predicted by the Neviim, spelled out in minute detail. So why are we not listening?
Why are we surprised when these things happen to us?
“The sin of Yehuda is inscribed with an iron quill … engraved into the slate of their heart…. You will be forced to withdraw from the heritage that I have given you and I will put you to work for your enemies in a land that you do not know, for you have ignited a fire in My nostrils…. Those who forsake Me will be inscribed for earthly depths, for they have forsaken Hashem, the Source of living waters.” (Haftaras Bechukosai, Yirmiah 17:1ff)
Why do we, whose ancestors have learned Torah ever since it was given, rebel against it? Why do we have to suffer?
I am going to look inside my own heart.
Many times, I do things that I regret. Even at the moment I am doing these things, I know that I am wrong. For example, my wife gives me good advice, and I am in a stubborn mood, so I don’t listen. I know she’s right, but I don’t do it, just to prove my independence.
I believe that, when Chava listened to the nachash in Gan Eden, she knew in her heart that she was wrong. Adam, when he ate the fruit, knew he was wrong. We all know that we are wrong when we go off the derech, but we do it anyway, because we want to prove that “I am also a somebody and no one is going to tell me what to do, even Hashem,” or maybe especially Hashem!
So what happens?
It says in Tehillim, “You reduce man to pulp and You say, ‘Repent, Oh sons of man!” (Tehil-lim 90) My friends, we have to cry out and beg Hashem to break our stubborn hearts! This entire mess is all our fault, but we are too stubborn to admit it! We are “achshonim” and we are causing our own troubles.
Dovid ha Melech is the only one with the strength to admit it. He is the one who can say, “I am a worm and not a man.” (Tehillim 22:7) Dovid knew that, if he admitted the truth, Hashem would rescue him.
I think that has to be our job now. We have to beg Hashem to break our stubborn hearts. He will surely rescue us the moment we return to Him.
“Heal me, hashem, and I will be healed. Save me and I will be saved….” (Haftaras Bechukosai). Let’s face it, friends, this job is too big for us. We need to call on our Father in Heaven. He will save us the minute we ask. But we need the courage, like Dovid ha Melech, to admit that we need Him. Hashem took us out of Mitzraim, from the forty-ninth level of tumah, although we did not deserve it. He knew we would repent. He knew we would make it to Har Sinai. He knew we would accept the Torah. And he knew we would fall again afterwards.
Even though the “righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise.” (Mishlei 24:16) We keep falling, but we have to know that we can get up. In the second bracha of Shemoneh Esreh it says, “[Hashem] supports the fallen.”
If we desire to serve Hashem, He will lift us up. We have to keep begging Him to save us!
We will yet survive to see the Great Dawn, when the sun arises over the Bais Hamikdosh.
May it be soon in our days!
Achshonim: Stubborn people
Chazal: Rabbis of the Mishnah and Gemora
Derech: the right path
Dovid ha Melech: King David
Geulah Shelemah: Final Redemption
Nachash: The snake in the Garden of Eden
Tochecha: Section of reproof in the Torah
Yirmiah: The Prophet Jeremiah