We end the Book of Leviticus this Shabbat with Parashat Behukotai. Behukotai presents us with this challenge: if the Jewish people follow God’s mitzvot, “…I will establish My abode in your midst, and I will not spurn you. I will be ever present in your midst: I will be your God, and you shall be My people.” And, if we do not, then “I in turn will do this to you: I will wreak misery upon you.” And the Torah goes on to list the truly horrible misfortunes that will befall the Jewish people.
What can we take away from such a text, we who are part of a people that has suffered so much?
I don’t think it means that our physical fortunes or misfortunes are based on our observation of Jewish law. I do believe that this text teaches us the value and richness of life committed to God and Jewish practice, which grounds us in a history, a moral system and a deep wellspring of spiritual wisdom.
Lives centered on ourselves and our own needs are spiritually impoverished and ultimately lonely. Every day we have a choice on how we will orient our lives.