S.A.L.T. - Wednesday
The opening verses of Parashat Bechukotai describe the blessings that God promises to bestow upon Benei Yisrael if they faithfully comply with His commands. These include the promise, “Ve-hit’halakhti be-tokhekhem” – “I shall walk in your midst” (26:12). Torat Kohanim, as cited by Rashi, explains, “I shall stroll with you in the Garden of Eden like one of you, and you will not be frightened by Me.”
To illustrate the meaning of this promise, Torat Kohanim presents an analogy to a king who decided to take a leisurely walk in the royal orchard with his sharecropper, who worked the fields in exchange for a percentage of the produce. The sharecropper was visibly uncomfortable, and tried to hide. The king said to him, “Why are you hiding from me? I am just like you!” Similarly, Torat Kohanim explains, “the Almighty in the future will stroll with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. The righteous will see Him and be frightened by His presence. He will say to them: I am just like you!”
Chazal here compare the relationship between the righteous and God, to the relationship between a king and his sharecropper. A humble, gracious king recognizes that “I am just like you” – he and his sharecropper are, essentially, partners in the enterprise; the king purchased the property, and the sharecropper tends to the land and produces food. The same is true of our relationship to God if we live in accordance with His will. He created the world and “hired” us as His “sharecroppers,” charged with the responsibility of caring for the world by adhering to the Torah’s commands and values. If we, like the devoted sharecropper, obey the King’s wishes, and do the best we can to cultivate the world He created and produce the results He desires, then God considers us “like Him,” as His partners. He is the Creator and Owner of the “orchard,” and He assigned us the job of producing “fruits,” by following the Torah’s laws. If we fulfill our obligations, then we become His partners, who are worthy of “strolling” together with God as equals, so-to-speak.
Chazal here teach that we do not need wealth, fame or prestige to feel important or accomplished. Our lives’ success or worth is not measured by popularity or notoriety. We live accomplished, successful lives if we fulfill the mission set forth for us by the Torah, if we adhere to God’s commands to the best of our ability. Rather than striving to be noticed and respected by people, we should focus instead on humbly and sincerely striving to study and observe the Torah, through which we become important enough to “stroll” together with the Creator of the world.
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