Parshas Bechukosai depicts the wonderful blessings we will receive if we study Torah properly and keep the Mitzvos (Torah commandments), and the awful curses, God forbid, if we do not. The question arises: Isn’t the Next World reserved for receiving reward and retribution for our deeds? Why then does the Torah give a lengthy description of the blessings and curses one will experience in this world?

This question is asked by the Rambam (Laws of Teshuvah 9:1), and the Rambam answers that the blessings mentioned in the Torah are not meant as a reward, nor are the curses meant as retribution. Rather, when God sees that we are keeping the Torah properly, He will bless us with bountiful blessings of health, financial stability, and peace so that we can further grow in Torah and improve our service of God.

On the contrary, if we fail to utilize our blessings properly, and the material resources are causing us to become weaker in our service of God, we no longer merit these blessings. Our choice to distance ourselves from the right path results in curses intended to further hinder us from serving God properly.

The Ohr Hachaim lived in Morocco, and later moved to the Holy Land. When he was in Morocco, he told his community, “There are six workdays in the week. It’s enough to work the first three days of the week alone and leave the rest of the week for studying Torah. I guarantee that your livelihood will not suffer.”

The community accepted his words, and they reserved the second half of the week for studying Torah instead of working. Indeed, their earnings did not suffer. They earned in just half the week as much as they had earned previously when they worked six days. This went on for many years until the Ohr Hachaim move to the Land of Israel. Once the community lacked the influence of his presence, their old custom started fading out and they gradually increased their work time, until eventually they want back to working six days. However, the people admitted that despite working the additional days, they did not end up earning more than they had when they spent half the week studying Torah.

Utilizing our blessings properly in following the Torah is indeed the catalyst for bringing more blessings into our lives.

Parshas Bechukosai by Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber

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