Parashah Ponderings

Serving God without Servitude

Parashat Bechukotai: Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34

This week’s Torah reading brings the Book of Leviticus to a close. The reading begins with 13 verses in which God promises to bless the people of Israel if they follow God’s laws (chukot) and observe God’s commandments. What follows, however, is a series of seven increasingly harsh curses that God will set upon the people if they spurn God’s laws and commandments. These curses contain some of the harshest punishments against Israel in the entire Torah. The reading concludes on a mellower note with a set of measures aimed at raising the necessary funds to maintain the Sanctuary.

My colleague Rabbi Shai Held, Co-Founder, Dean and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar (, in his weekly teaching hones in on the very last verse among the blessings (Lev. 26:13) and finds there meaning that would allude most readers. Rabbi Held’s message of serving God with our heads held high as opposed to bowed over in submission is a powerful one that I am pleased to share with you this week. Please click here to read Rabbi Held’s teaching:

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Dan

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