second of the two portions read this week, Bechukosai, starts off with the words
“If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them,
then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its
produce, and the tree of the field will give its fruit.” Three verses later
G-d states: “You will pursue your enemies; and they will fall before you by
the sword. Five of you will pursue a hundred and a hundred will pursue ten
thousand.” (Lev. Ch. 26 V.3-4; 7-8)
need not be a math major to ask the glaringly obvious question: If five can
pursue a hundred, then five hundred should be able to pursue ten thousand. Not
one hundred to pursue ten thousand. What is the explanation for this
G-d gave us the Torah, He did so in the desert. Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch
explains the significance of the location: the reason why it was given in the
desert was to teach us that the Torah is bound to no particular time or place
(The Land of Israel is the holiest of all lands, and the land most conducive to
keeping the Torah; however, it is not imperative to our keeping of the Torah).
The Torah is something that stands on its own and is a requirement for the
Jewish people for all time.
might think that our relationship with G-d is strictly dependent on how we
relate to him, thus creating the possibility of a Jew living in a vacuum, so to
speak. This is also not true. What is required is a three pronged relationship
between G-d, the Jewish people, and the Torah.
is how we explain the mathematical discrepancy. When five Jews are together,
keeping the Torah, thereby improving the world, that is more than five times as
powerful than one individual keeping the Torah. And when one hundred Jews are
keeping the Torah, that is exponentially much more powerful than five. The whole
is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
Jews stood together at Sinai when we received the Torah (even the souls of Jews
not yet born). We are here to be a nation of priests. Our true potential lies
not only within ourselves, but within the soul of our fellow Jew. It is our
obligation to teach each other and to enable each other to reach our spiritual
heights. In a little more than one week, it will be Shavuos, when we originally
received the Torah. This year when we receive it anew (as we do every Shavuos)
may it be done as a people united.