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A Stroll in Gan Eden

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Bechukosai

May 18, 2012

Parshas BeChukosai 5772


The Torah relates to us the benefits of following in the path of the chukim, as it says, “Vehaya im bechukosai talaychu.” The timely rain will produce bountiful crops. The wild animals of the field will be in awe of you. The vast multitudes of your enemies will flee from the few. There will be peace. G-d will walk among us. He will be at our side in Gan Eden.


The section known as the tochacha (rebuke) warns us of the dire fate of those who do not walk the path of the chukim, ones who treat the chukim with disgust. The curses placed upon those who reject the chukim are a mirror image of the blessings for those who embrace the chukim. The earth will not produce its bounty. The wild animals will attack with impunity. A few of the enemy will be sufficient to rout the multitude. G-d will not walk among us. We will be cast to the winds of fortune.


The pivotal point of the blessings and the curses is the adherence to the chukim.


Chukim are those commandments whose reasoning eludes us. They cannot be understood by the logic of this world. Mishpatim can be understood on a basic level. There is no basic level of understanding for chukim.


Why is it that chukim occupy such a cardinal position in the grand scheme of things, to the extent that the entire structure of Hashem’s world is dependent upon them?


The Sochatchover Rebbe, in his sefer Shem MiShmuel, reveals that these are not mere blessings and curses. The world was created for a purpose. It has a destiny. The creation of the world is the embarkation point of a journey. It is a journey upon which all the seemingly lost and disconnected fragments in creation are meant to be reconnected with their Creator. It is a task placed upon man to reveal the harmony in this lowly world thus uncovering the evidence of one hand in creation.


Adam HaRishon veered from this path.


The posuk in Sefer Koheles says, “Asah HaElokim es ha’Adam yashar vehaymah bikshu cheshbonos rabim.” (perek 7, posuk 29) – G-d fashioned Adam HaRishon to walk upon the straight and narrow. He chose instead to follow the path of his own calculations.


He was commanded not to eat from the fruits of the eitz hada’as. No reason was given for this command. Upon seeing the tree, he saw that it was a tree of good and evil. It was a precious tree, filled with sweetness. The Ozerover Rebbe, in his sefer Be’er Moshe, writes that the sweetness seen in the tree was due to the presence of good and evil inside it. He was born to a world of total tov. He saw no challenge in such a world. In the tree he saw the ability to engage evil in battle and triumph over it. To his eyes, it appeared to be an easy, attainable goal. Thus it was sweet in his eyes. He reasoned that Hashem warned him of eating from the tree, because Hashem did not wish him to suffer from trial and tribulation. Adam was willing, on his own, to undertake such an effort.


He was wrong. He engaged evil in battle and it was not easy, nor will it ever be easy.


Although there was great merit in his cheshbon (calculation), this was a violation of the covenant which exists between man and G-d. As the posuk states, “Tamim tihiyeh im Hashem Elokecha.” (Devarim, perek 18, posuk 13). A person should relate with temimus with G-d. Temimus is the blemish free, all encompassing trust that one can rely only on Hashem.


Hashem told Adam HaRishon, “No”. That is sufficient. One may and should endeavor to uncover the reasons behind Hashem’s wishes, but a lack of understanding should never be the basis for substituting one’s own reasoning in place of Hashem’s.


The tikkun (correction) of this lapse is to be found in events of yetzias mitzrayim.  Klal Yisroel followed blindly into a desert, as the posuk states, “Lechtaych acharay bamidbar be’eretz lo zarua.”


This was followed by the giving of the Torah. The medrash highlights the difference between Klal Yisroel and the nations of the world. The nations were not willing or able to accept the Torah without first knowing what it contains. Only then would they be able to make their calculations and decide whether  it would be in their benefit to accept it.


Klal Yisroel proclaimed with perfect temimus, “Na’aseh venishma.”


One who has such a perfect relationship with the Creator rises above the mundane. He exists on a totally different level due to this connection. He is to be likened to an angel. His existence is primarily spiritual.


For such a person, for such a nation, the world was formed. Everything in it acts together in harmony for the well being of such a people. The forces of the elements work in concert for their betterment. The wild animals view them as a higher life force and are cowed by their greatness. The nations of the world recognize that such people have risen above the level of humanity. Their existence is other-worldly, and they are in awe of them.


And in the final stage, we will complete the circle and merit to walk alongside Hashem in Gan Eden.


This is the true value of chukim. The adherence to the fulfillment of chukim forges a bond of trust with the Creator, which brings us back to Gan Eden.

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