Parsha Bechukotai: The Small Admonition and 7 punishments

Dear Scouts:

For the last two weeks, we’ve been studying about groupings of the number “seven” and their significance – in the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, in the seven years of the Shmita cycle and the seven Shmita cycles that lead to the Jubilee (Yovel) year.

Before we leave the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra), we have one more set of sevens.

This week, parsha Bechukotai contains one of two admonitions, or warnings, in the Torah. This is called the Small Admonition, the Tochahah Hakatana. God tells the Children of Israel that if they obey the Torah’s laws, there will be five rewards for them, including timely rains, good crops, peace and the Tabernacle (Mishkan). But if they treat the laws casually (Keri) – the Sages explain this means to deny belief in God – then God will treat them casually and they will suffer seven punishments, including things like sickness, failed crops and famine.

Some rabbis explain Keri to mean that a person believes that things occur by chance, not as part of a divine plan. So when God treats them casually, instead of seeing their difficulties as related to their failure to believe in God, they just see it as chance occurrences.

As Rabbi Shmuel Goldin explains (Unlocking the Torah Text: Vayikra), God can forgive our mistakes, but if we lose our trust in God, we probably should not expect God to be there for us.

This does not mean you should not have questions about God. Just the opposite. To understand Judaism, talk to your rabbi, religious school teachers and parents about God.

Shabbat shalom,


©2014 Nelson R. Block