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בס"ד

O, Jerusalem

Rabbi Sari Laufer/Congregation Rodeph Sholom

Parashat Bechukotai

June 4, 2016/27 Iyyar 5776

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  1. (לא) וְנָתַתִּ֤י אֶת־עָֽרֵיכֶם֙ חָרְבָּ֔ה וַהֲשִׁמּוֹתִ֖י אֶת־מִקְדְּשֵׁיכֶ֑ם וְלֹ֣א אָרִ֔יחַ בְּרֵ֖יחַ נִיחֹֽחֲכֶֽם׃ (לב) וַהֲשִׁמֹּתִ֥י אֲנִ֖י אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְשָֽׁמְמ֤וּ עָלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֹֽיְבֵיכֶ֔ם הַיֹּשְׁבִ֖ים בָּֽהּ׃ (לג) וְאֶתְכֶם֙ אֱזָרֶ֣ה בַגּוֹיִ֔ם וַהֲרִיקֹתִ֥י אַחֲרֵיכֶ֖ם חָ֑רֶב וְהָיְתָ֤ה אַרְצְכֶם֙ שְׁמָמָ֔ה וְעָרֵיכֶ֖ם יִהְי֥וּ חָרְבָּֽה׃
    (31) And I will make your cities a waste, and will bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. (32) And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell therein shall be astonished at it. (33) And you will I scatter among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.
  2. () וּמִפְּנֵי חֲטָאֵינוּ גָּלִינוּ מֵאַרְצֵנוּ. וְנִתְרַחַקְנוּ מֵעַל אַדְמָתֵנוּ. 

    But because of our sins, we have been exiled from our land and sent far from our soil....

  3. (לג) וגעלה נפשי אתכם. שתסור השכינה אז תחרבנה עריכם ונשמו המקדשים שלכם והטעם בתחלה היו מקדשי

    I will spurn you: The Shechinah will turn aside from you...and thus your cities will be made desolate. Once the Shechinah turns from you, they are your sanctuaries, not Mine.

  4. (לה) והיתה ארצם שממה. שֶׁלֹּא תְמַהֲרוּ לָשׁוּב לְתוֹכָהּ, וּמִתּוֹךְ כָּךְ עָרֵיכֶם יִהְיוּ חָרְבָּה — נִרְאוֹת לָכֶם חֲרֵבוֹת, שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָדָם גּוֹלֶה מִבֵּיתוֹ וּמִכַּרְמוֹ וּמֵעִירוֹ וְסוֹפוֹ לַחְזוֹר, כְּאִלּוּ אֵין כַּרְמוֹ וּבֵיתוֹ חֲרֵבִים, כָּךְ שְׁנוּיָה בְּתֹ"כֹּ:

     והיתה ארצכם שממה AND YOUR LAND WILL BE (REMAIN) DESOLATE — This implies that you will not soon return unto it, and on that account עריכם יהיו חריבה YOUR CITIES WILL BE WASTE, i. e. they will seem to you waste; for when a man is exiled from his house, or from his vineyard, or from his city, knowing that he is ultimately to return to it, it appears to him as though his vineyard or his house were not waste. —Thus is it explained in Torath Cohanim.

  5. The repeated phrases – “If after all this . . . If despite this . . . If despite everything” – come like hammer-blows of fate. It is a passage shattering in its impact, all the more so since so much of it came true at various times in Jewish history. Yet the curses end with the most profound promise of ultimate consolation. Despite everything God will not break His covenant with the Jewish people. Collectively they will be eternal. They may suffer, but they will never be destroyed. They will undergo exile but eventually they will return.

    (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks)

  6.  

    Indeed, we would suggest that Diaspora, and not monotheism, may be the most important contribution that Judaism has to make to the world… Diaspora can teach us that it is possible for a people to maintain its distinctive culture, its difference, without controlling land, without controlling other people or developing a need to dispossess them of their lands.

    (Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin)

  7. יומא ט׳ ב:ג׳-י״ט

    מקדש ראשון מפני מה חרב מפני ג' דברים שהיו בו ע"ז וגלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים... אבל מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם כנגד שלש עבירות ע"ז גלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים

    Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three evils in it: idolatry, sexual immorality and bloodshed . . . But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that during the time it stood people occupied themselves with Torah, with observance of precepts, and with the practice of charity? Because during the time it stood, hatred without rightful cause prevailed. This is to teach you that hatred without rightful cause is deemed as grave as all the three sins of idolatry, sexual immorality and bloodshed together.

  8. Israel may suffer, but it will never die. It may experience exile, but one day it will return. It may undergo the most terrible persecution, but it will never have reason to despair. The placement of this prophecy at the culmination of the curses is one of the most fateful of all biblical assertions. No fate is so bleak as to murder hope itself. No defeat is final, no exile endless, no tragedy the last word of the story.

    (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks)

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