Parsha Nugget Bechukosai – Leviticus 26:3-27:34
Many people have given up believing in G-d because too many bad things happened to them or there is too much evil and suffering in the world. I appreciate how bad they feel seeing people in pain or experiencing undeserved hardship. And I don't want to affront to their sensibilities. But their view of how G-d runs the world is too simplistic. Parshas Bechukosai explains:
"And if, during these, you will not listen to Me, I will add another seven punishments for your sins." (Vayikra/Leviticus 26:18)
This Sabbath’s parsha, the final one in Leviticus, gives the blessings and the curses that will befall the Children of Israel depending on whether they follow G-d’s decrees and commandments. Next, it covers gifts to the Temple. Then it deals with redeeming them as well as houses and fields. It ends with how to tithe.
Purposely Causing Suffering
A few months after my daughter was born my wife and I took her to get vaccinated. Even at such a tender age, when the needle came out she knew something bad was about to happen. I held her while the nurse inserted the needle. She wailed!
But moments later she sought comfort in my arms. How could this be? Wasn’t I the source, at least partially, of her inexplicable suffering? And of course, my newborn daughter couldn't have understood that the nurse and I inflicted pain for her own good. Despite my complicity, she knew daddy was also the source of love and succor. She saw no conflict. To her, daddy and love were one.
Why, when we get older, do we think those who love us will never cause us pain on purpose? Any married person knows that, as regrettable as are such occurrences, they happen. In our married lives, we often have the advantage of knowing why suffering takes place. Frequently as parents, we have to do something that “hurts” our children in order to help them learn.
G-d Wants You to Grow
So it is with the Almighty. When you read the rebukes in Bechukosai, you may wonder at the notion that G-d is good and loves us. What kind of Father would wreak such suffering on His people? But to ask such a question is to reveal our lack of understanding as to who runs the world and what G-d’s plan is for us.
Annoyance and painful events in your life do not mean that G-d no longer loves you, has abandoned you, or, heaven forbid, that G-d is not good. Rather, the Almighty is giving you a dose that He knows you can handle, like my daughter’s vaccinations. You will be strengthened for greater challenges in the future. It is for you then, to seek out your loving parent, be comforted by Him, and renew your efforts to comprehend how G-d wants you to live.
Do you feel G-d ever brought unwarranted suffering to your life?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!