Rabbi Frand on Parshas Bechukosai
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi
Yissocher Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion:
Tape # 98, "Chermei Tzibur" A Ban on Living in Germany? Good Shabbos!
I Love You and I Will Not Be Disgusted by You
In this week's parsha we find the first of the two Tochachas that are
present in the Torah. G-d warns us about what will be if we do not
keep the Torah. The curses enumerated are very graphic - and if one,
after hearing of all the terrible tragedies which have befallen the
Jewish people, now has doubts about Emunah [faith (in G-d)], all he
has to do is read this chapter and he will realize that everything
that has been warned of in these curses has unfortunately been
fulfilled. Unbelievable descriptions such as women having to eat
their children in order to survive are things that we have
unfortunately seen in our own lifetime.
But, before the Tochacha begins, there is a relatively small parsha
of Bracha [Blessing] -- what will be if we keep the mitzvos. The
Torah enumerates many wonderful things. We will have plenty, there
will be peace in the land, we will be able to conquer our enemies, we
will become populous and prosperous -- all the wonderful things.
And then G-d promises us that He will live with us: "And I will
place my Mishkan in your midst..." [Vayikra 26:11] (This is a
blessing, that unfortunately, after 2000 years of not having a Beis
HaMikdash, we cannot even contemplate; but it is a tremendous
blessing to be able to feel G-d's holiness in our midst.) But that
same verse which begins by speaking of G-d placing His Mishkan in our
midst ends with the words "...and I will not detest you" (v'lo sig-al
The commentaries are bothered by this verse; it does not seem to make
any sense. Here G-d is telling us how much He loves us and is
promising us all the Brochos, so is this the place to conclude with
the sentiment "I will not despise you?"
Imagine, a fellow proposes to a girl. After going out on a number of
dates, he is finally ready to "pop the big question." He begins, "I
am going to love you, I am going to cherish you, I am going to take
care of you..." and then he concludes, "...and I am not going to be
disgusted by you either." Imagine... How far would that would get
That, at first glance, would seem to be what this verse is saying.
The words "sig-al nafshi" have connotations of being nauseating and
despicable! What does the verse mean?
I saw a beautiful insight from the work Shemen HaTov. The Shemen
HaTov explains that it is a wonderful thing when two people love each
other. But, unfortunately we know that when two people have loved
each other and then they fall apart, there is no greater hatred than
In general, people who divorce are unfortunately the best example of
people who hate each other. People who loved each other and shared
everything, but Heaven Forbid get divorced, are at war with each
other. They get down in the gutter and try to destroy each other.
Nothing is worse than former lovers who now hate each other.
What this verse is saying is that G-d is promising, that he will love
and cherish and take care of the Jewish people. But G-d prophesizes
that He Knows that they will not be faithful and He will have to
chase them out of Eretz Yisroel. The Sages and the Medrashim use the
analogy of a husband and wife who have to separate to explain G-d's
need to drive the Jewish people out of their land.
G-d then informs, that when I split with you -- it will not be a
bitter divorce. Even then, I will never come to hate you. I will
never detest you. Even when I have to send you out and we have to --
so to speak -- divorce, I will always love you, I will never detest
you. This is the greatest blessing.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin [7a] gives a powerful description: "When our
love was strong, we could have slept on the blade of a sword, but now
that our love is not strong there is no bed in the world that is big
enough to hold us both."
G-d however says, that is not the way it will be when He finds it
necessary to discipline the Jewish people. He will never detest us.
We will always be special. This is a special Bracha. That is why it
appears in the Brochos and not in the Curses.
Tochacha - Chastisement
Emunah - Faith
Bracha (Brachos) -- Blessing(s)
Mishkan -- Tabernacle
This week's write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi
Yissochar Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah
portion (#98). The corresponding halachic portion for this tape is:
"Chermei Tzibur" A Ban on Living in Germany? The other halachic
portions for Parshas Bechukosai from the Commuter Chavrusah Series
Also Available: Mesorah / Artscroll has published a collection
of Rabbi Frand's essays. The book is entitled: