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Realizing Our Worth

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Bechukosai by Rabbi Yehuda Meyers


"דַבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ כִּי יַפְלִא נֶדֶר בְּעֶרְכְּךָ נְפָשֹׁת לַה' ''  וַיִקְרָא כ''ז:ב'

“Speak to Bnei Yisrael and say to them: ‘When a man will express a vow to God regarding a valuation of souls.’ ”  Vayikra 27:2


As we read Parashas Bechukosai, we encounter the Tochachah, a section of the Torah that sternly warns of severe consequences and curses for those who disregard the Torah's laws. Immediately following the Tochachah, the Torah suddenly transitions to discussing the laws of "Arachin", which pertain to the monetary/value obligations of those who dedicate the value or worth of themselves or that of others to the Beis HaMikdash. As discerning readers, we can't help but wonder about the connection between these seemingly unrelated topics. מַה עִנְיָן עֲרָכִין אֵצֶל תּוֹכָחָה? Why are the technical laws of Arachin placed right after the Tochachah?


A number of years ago, I heard a profound insight in the name of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Kotzk, also known as the Kotzker Rebbe, that sheds light on this juxtaposition. Throughout our turbulent history, the ominous predictions of the Tochachah have unfortunately come true time and again. Jewish blood has been spilled indiscriminately. 


Unfortunately, we, as the victims of this horrific treatment, are at risk of believing our enemies, doubting our own worth and value. In the words of the Piazescna Rebbi, a Jew may feel so “crushed and trampled that he cannot discern if he is a Jew, a human being, or rather an animal who does not have the capacity for feeling” (Aish Kodesh, Page 10). Such has been the cruel and painful historical experience of the Jew in the diaspora.  


However, by placing the laws of Arachin after the Tochachah, the Torah reminds us that no matter what the world may say or do to us, the life of each and every Jew is inherently priceless and valuable. 


As a nation, we have been painfully reminded over the past few months that even in the year 2023, Jewish lives continue to be devalued by our enemies. But this week's parashah is a clarion call that we must stand proud as Jews, confident in the knowledge that the ultimate Judge, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, attests to our inherent worth and value in His world. 


 

Rabbi Yehuda Meyers (FYHS 2008) learned at Yeshivat Sha’alvim and Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim, & did outreach with the Jewish community in Berlin. He studied at Y.U., earning a B.A. in Psychology & receiving Semichah & an M.A. in Jewish Education. He served as Rabbinic Intern, Education Director, Program Director, and Youth Director at several synagogues and organizations. Back in Chicago, he was a Kollel Fellow with the Y.U. Torah Mitzion Kollel. Rabbi Meyers is Rabbi at Lincolnwood Jewish Congregation.                                                                             

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