NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 12
7 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
5 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 78
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1013
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 3992
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 16:19 - 17:14
This week we study Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
יום ירושלים Yom Yerushalayim is Friday, May 22, 2020.
| פרשת בחוקותי
In our last episode, the Jewish calendar went full circle as the
Torah introduced Shmita, the seventh year of the
7 year cycle, and Yovel, the fiftieth year in a 50 year
As our Parsha opens, Moshe explains to the Bnei
Yisrael that Hashem wants the nation to dedicate
their hearts and minds to learning Torah and doing Mitzvot.
If the nation takes the Torah's learning challenge, Hashem
has five blessings lined up.
promises to give rain in Eretz Yisroel at the right time.
Rain is a tricky thing to fool around with. In Davening
(praying) we're careful about when we ask for rain and make sure
we ask for the right amount. Too little or too much rain can devastate
Hashem promises that the rain will freshen the water
supply and keep the residents of Eretz Yisroel, their
children and animals healthy.
promises that the grains will be in such abundance that it will
take months to thresh the fields. By the time the fields are cut
the vineyards will kick in with a bountiful grape harvest.
On top of that, even trees that don't usually give fruit - will
bear fruit, and the fruit will ripen in one day!
One more thing; the old Shmita clause that makes the
stomach satisfied with less food will kick in on this Bracha
| A country that's
got a good crop has to watch out for jealous enemies.
Hashem promises to keep the armies of surrounding countries
out of the land. Even armies just passing through to fight other
nations will find another route and avoid Eretz Yisroel.
As a bonus, Hashem will even keep the peace when wild
animals find their way into the neighborhood.
promises that He will bless a Torah nation with lots of
healthy kids and long life.
Don't worry about the bills, Hashem will provide plenty
of food and make sure the grain in the fields will stay fresh
and tasty even better than the new crop. You'll be blessed with
so much grain that you'll run out of storage room and stomach
| Best of all blessings,
Hashem promises that if we keep the Torah and
its Mitzvot, Hashem will dwell amongst us. He
will open our eyes and hearts to His Shechina (glory) so
that we will understand Him.
Hashem wants to be close to us. It is we who have to
draw Him in. But if we choose to reject Him, that's a different
| There isn't much
of a choice when you're the Chosen People. Hashem not only
rewards you for keeping His Mitzvot but he punishes you
just as hard if you don't accept His offer.
Of course, Hashem wants us to live by His Mitzvot.
- Hashem will bring about sickness.
- Forget the abundance of crops - we're talking famine and hunger
throughout the land.
- The wild animals, however, won't be hungry.
- Enemies of Israel will kill many Jews.
- You thought Egypt was plagued? Just look out for a punishment
of plagues for not keeping Hashem's Mitzvot.
- Hashem will destroy the Bait Hamikdash and
exile the Jewish people.
This warning is Hashem's way of keeping us in line.
If we stray, Hashem will accept our tshuva (repentance).
Hashem will remember His pact with Avrahom, Yitzchok
and Yaakov. He will then end the galut when the right
already know that Hashem doesn't want us to copy the demented
ways of other nations that make human sacrifices.
Torah, Hashem promotes the idea of physcologically
giving yourself to Hashem. One way is to give an animal
or flour offering. Another way is to give money. The Mitzva
here is to give your "value" to the Mishkan
or Bait Hamikdash. Hashem's even got a price
Males from 1 month
to 5 years old are worth 5 silver shekels.
Females from 1
month to 5 years old are worth 3 silver shekels.
Males from 5 to
20 years old are worth 20 silver shekels.
Females from 5
to 20 years old are worth 10 silver shekels.
Males from 20 to
60 years old are worth 50 silver shekels.
Females from 20
to 60 years old are worth 30 silver shekels.
Males from 60 years
and up are worth 15 silver shekels.
Females from 60
years and up are worth 10 silver shekels.
is six drams of pure silver.
Let's say a person
is so happy with his son's A+ report card that he declares "I
want to give the value of my son to the Bait Hamikdash."
The money is used to make repairs in the Bait Hamikdash.
If someone pledges a "value," and cannot afford to
come up with the bucks mentioned above, the Kohain will
estimate how much he is to give.
| The Torah
tells us that once an animal has been pledged as an offering to
the Bait Hamikdash the animal cannot be exchanged. If a
person ignores this law and attempts to make a switch, both animals
are now dedicated to the Bait Hamikdash.
Hashem adds other Mitzvot regarding non-kosher
animals and other material goods, (such as houses, fields) pledged
to the Bait Hamikdash.
final mitzvah of the book of Vayikra is for a
farmer to give a tenth of his cattle to Hashem. If a Jewish
farmer raised cows, sheep or goats he has a mitzvah to
give every tenth new born animal to Hashem. This mitzvah
is called "Ma'aser Behaima."
Here's how it's done;
Once a year a farmer takes all the animals born that year
into a corral or stable with a door too small for more than one
animal to exit at a time. Their mothers are left outside so the
young animals will want to leave the corral or stable. The farmer
counts the animals as they leave. Every tenth animal that comes
out is touched with a stick that has been dipped in red paint.
Then the farmer calls out "This animal is Ma'aser."
The "no backsies" law applies here too.
The farmer than takes these chosen animals to Yerushalayim
where the Kohain slaughters them. Next, the Kohain
burns the inner parts on the Mizbayach (Altar) as a sacrifice
to Hashem and gives the meat to the farmer who is permitted
to eat the meat only in Yerushalayim.
Part of Hashem's plan is to make sure that even a farmer
who works morning till night will find the time to immerse himself
in Torah study. The farmer would then return to his family
with a great sense of understanding and welcome the Shechina
into every aspect of his life.
With this we complete the third book of the Torah, Vayikra.
We've shared the joy of dedicating the Mishkan and the
tragedy of the death of Aharon's sons. The Kohain Gadol
got Yom Kippur rituals and Hashem gave sinners
a way out of doomsville with Tshuva on Rosh Hashana
and Yom Kippur.
We were given a formula for being a Holy Nation as a ton of
Mitzvot came pouring in during Kedoshim and
we got a national identity as the cycle of Jewish life introduced
the Regalim, Shmita and Yovel.
Kohanim stuck to the korbanot as Moshe relayed
the Mishkan's rituals to the Bnei Yisroel and
Hashem gave us a way to wipe the slate clean every fifty
years. Yovel rejuvenates the nation and gives us a fresh
Finally, we leave Vayikra with one message:
Hashem wants to be a part of our lives. If we are dedicated
to Hashem, He will be dedicated to us.
Tune in next week as the Jewish nation takes the Mishkan
and the mitzvot on the road as we prepare for a 40 year
trek through the midbar (desert) in the next exciting
episode of :