Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Bechukosai

Mussar Drosha for Bechukosai

We all need Mussar.  Mussar is really self-discipline and an aid in serving Hashem.  As the Mishnah Berurah rules, we must set aside times each day to learn Mussar.  In this post, Be"h, we will discuss Mussar for last week's parsha - Parshas Bechukosai (outside the Land of Israel). 

At the start Parshas Bechukosai, the first verse in fact, Hashem says 'Eem Bechukosai teileichu, vi'es Mitzvosai tishmoru, vaasisem osam', which means 'If you will go in My Statutes, and My Commandments you will keep, and you will do them'. 

There seems to be three different facets in this verse:  But, B'Ezras Hashem, we will start off by concentrating on the first part of the verse: 'If you will go in My Statutes':

What does Hashem mean by telling us to 'go in My Statutes'?  Maybe one of the reasons, we can explain like this:  The root of the word 'Bechukosai' is chok.  As we are told, the type of commandment called a chok (statute), is a commandment which people don't understand, and only Hashem does.  They are just as important to keep as all other commandments, but we just don't understand them.

Hashem obviously understands everything better than us, so even though we do not understand some commandments, if He commanded it with His Divine Wisdom, then it goes without saying that it is needed.  To just keep Hashem's Chukim is a high level, but I believe that this verse speaks of even a higher level than keeping them.  That is, going in Hashem's Statutes.  Doing this, we keep His Chukim to a very high level.

Let me explain a bit better with something I saw in The Torah of Brisk and Other Gedolim: Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur (p. 71):  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian zt"l, in his book Lev Eliyahu, explains that by nature, people have more eagerness to perform Commandments which they can understand.  On the other hand, he says beautifully, when it comes to those Commandments for which they have no understanding of their logical foundation, they are less passionate.1 

But if we literally go even in Hashem's Chukim, of which we have no understanding, not just doing them because we have to but not like it, but actually keeping them enthusiastically, and wanting to keep them, then I believe we have reached the level of 'Eem Bechukosai teileichu'.  A lot of times, if we love Hashem truly and wholly, we will come to want to perform and keep all of His Holy Commandments, no matter if we understand them or not. 

Now maybe we understand the level of 'Eem Bechukosai teileichu' better. 

Let us, Be"h, start to discuss the second part of the verse, 'and My Commandments you will keep':  Though it would seem from the explanation of the first part of this verse that 'keeping' is not as high a level, that would be misunderstanding it.  'Keeping' the Commandments is a higher level than might meet the eye.  The simple, but extremely important explanation of this would be to say that this means that we must keep Hashem's Commandments.  This is very, very important. 

Now, an in depth explanation might be like this:  The word used for 'keeping' is 'Shamor', which literally means 'to guard'.  When we guard ourselves regarding the Commandments, it shows Fear of Hashem.  We guard against doing sins, because we know that Hashem can see us always.  In other words, as many explain, since we  realize that Hashem can see us always, how can we ever come to sin?  How can somebody do a sin to Hashem's face?  And we are always 'to His face'!  So really, we should never do a sin, and we should 'guard' ourselves regarding the Commandments always. 

The last part of the verse reads 'and you shall do them'.  'Doing' or 'performing' the Commandments is a very important thing.  If we look at the things which we do everyday, we will likely see at least some things which were not in accordance with the Commandments.  So one might think that they can keep the 'major' Commandments easily, and then sort of keep the other ones.  But no!  This is for sure not the way Hashem wants us to live!  All Commandments are major.  And only keeping the ones which we want to, Chas V'Shalom, is not keeping them.  Hashem tells us that we must keep all His Holy Commandments. 

So to overview:  First, we must literally 'go' or 'walk' in even Hashem's Commandments which we don't understand,  (we are supposed to do this with all of His Commandments), which usually requires a great love for Him.  Hashem commanded us to have that love in the portion of the Torah with the Shema. 

Second, we must 'guard' ourselves regarding the Commandments, to make sure that we do not violate any of them.  This is like Fear of Hashem, as we realize that He is always watching us, so there is no point where we can stop 'guarding' ourselves regarding the Holy Commandments. 

And third, we must actually 'do' or 'perform' Hashem's Commandments!  All of them!  And not just the way which we think is right, but the way which is actually right.  In keeping with what Hashem commanded us, with what is the Halacha, and with what is Mussardik, etc.

Additionally, we see that Hashem does not just give an overview by saying merely 'If you will keep all My Commandments'.  He tells us different details of the Commandments, such as 'going in His Chukim', 'guarding His Commandments' and 'doing them'.  This teaches us that we need to concentrate on details of the Commandments, and of serving Hashem.  We cannot just think 'Well, I think I keep all of the Commandments and serve Hashem properly', but rather, we must think about our actions and our service of Hashem in detail.  Whether we are actually doing it properly or, Chas V'Shalom not.  Hashem teaches us to think about every little thing we do - in detail - whether it is good or bad - part of serving Hashem or not.  If we, B'Ezras Hashem (with the Help of Hashem), do this, then we will all become better people.

We must concentrate on taking these special messages, and not only thinking about them, but as the verse says, 'and you shall do them'.  May we all, B'Ezras Hashem do this, and serve Hashem very well forever.  Amein, so may it be His Will!

If you have any thoughts or questions, please do not hesitate to post them in 'comments', and I look forward to reading them.

Kol Tuv everyone!
Refoel Berel


  1. Is it B'Eizer Hashem or B'Ezrat Hashem?

    1. I believe that the literal word would be B'Ezrat Hashem, yes. However, with both forms, the root word is the same. That is, 'ozer'.

  2. It can be either. Whichever one you wish to say.

    Have a wonderful day!