The Torah portion, or parasha, this week is Bechukotai, and is found in Leviticus 26:3-27:34. This parasha finishes the book of Leviticus, or Vayikra. Since the majority of the book focuses on mitzvot and the concept of holiness, it is not surprising that the passage here focuses on the outcome of following these mitzvot: peace and prosperity. The opposite outcomes are portrayed for those who do not follow Gods’ mitzvot: disease, famine, and war.
This passage is somewhat difficult for us today to process. After all, disease falls on good and bad alike, and so does prosperity. This concept is lamented in the book of Proverbs as well as Job. However, if we look closer at the passage we will realize that mitzvot–the acts of goodness and moral character that we perform for our fellow human beings and the acts of holiness we perform for God, do put us on a path which makes hard to achieve concepts – like peace – possible. That which we do for God, are things that remind us to think holier thoughts and provide an impetus for holier action so that we do not get dragged down by the negative influences around us. Things we do for others helps them understand their worth, and makes healing and prosperity possibilities in their lives. Peace is an interesting concept. It is not something that just happens. It is something that is made. In both the Scriptures and the siddur we see references to God making peace. If making peace requires action on God’s part, then if we are God’s partners on this earth, we can expect that peace is something we will have to work at as well. We may or may not see peace in our lifetime, but if we are committed, we may make peace possible for others.