Lately we get a lot of messages about the end of civilization. Think of all the movies, television shows and video games bringing you stories about fictional events like the zombie apocalypse, space alien attacks, out-of-control viruses and giant meteors striking Earth. These things probably will not happen, just like the prediction that rock-and-roll music would be the downfall of humanity turned out not to be true.
This week’s parasha, Bechukosai, gives us the Torah’s view of how civilization breaks down. The parasha starts out describing many of the wonderful blessings the Jewish people will enjoy in their Land if they live according to the laws of the Torah: there will be beneficial rain that comes at the proper time, the trees will bear fruit, harvested crops will last a long time, there will be peace and God will walk among the people.
The parasha also describes what happens if we reject our obligations to God: The heavens will not give rain, the land will not produce crops, the trees will not bear fruit, enemies will strike the people, food will be scant and cities will be in ruin.
What could bring about such a catastrophe? The Torah describes it: “But if you will not listen to Me and will not do all these commandments; if you reject My statutes, and if your soul rejects My laws, so that you will not perform my commandments, but break My covenant; I will do the same to you.” (Leviticus 26:14-16)
The sages interpreted this verse as a series of ever-worsening acts:
- People stop studying Torah
- They stop performing the commandments found in the Torah
- They become upset by those who perform the commandments
- They hate the rabbis who teach Torah
- They stop others from keeping the commandments
- They deny that God gave us the Torah
- They deny that God exists.
After terrible suffering, things end well, for when the people repent God will remember them.
The great news is, you are already one of the good guys saving civilization. You are studying Torah – right now. Since you are a Scout, you probably already perform many commandments our Scout Oath and Law borrowed from the Torah.
Keep up the good work!