The torah portion of BeChukotai begins with the words;
“ If you walk in my My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them, I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit.( Leviticus 26:3-4)
That concept of walking in Hashem’s commandment becomes a recurrent theme and eternal message.
We see the same concept is repeated throughout the Torah and then we see them repeated dramatically and very forcefully in the book of Deuteronomy;
“And now, Israel, what is it that HaShem your G-d wants from you? Only that you have awe of HaShem your G-d, walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve HaShem your G-d with all your heart and soul, to guard the Commandments of HaShem and his Laws ( Deut 10:12-13)
What does the concept of “Walking in His ways” then teach us?
Furthermore why does the opposite bring about such dire circumstances?
” And if in spite of these things ye will not be corrected unto Me, but will walk contrary ( Keri) unto Me; then will I also walk contrary( Be-Keri) unto you; and I will smite you, even I, seven times for your sins.” ( /Leviticus 26:23-24)
Maimonides writing in in Hilkhot Ta’aniyot (1:3) offers a deep sense of understanding . He translates the word “keri ” in the words “but will walk contrary ( Keri) unto Me”, not as “contrary” or odious” as some traditional scholars do but rather as “happenstance”. He writes;
“But if people do not cry or sound the trumpets, and instead say, “This occurred to us as the natural way of the world, and this crisis surfaced by happenstance” – this is an attitude of cruelty, and it causes them to become attached to their evil ways, and this crisis will bring upon further crises. This is what is said in the Torah, “And if you act towards Me be-keri; then I, too, will act towards you in the wrath of keri.” Meaning, when I bring a crisis upon you so that you repent, if you say that it occurs by happenstance, then I will add the wrath of that happenstance.”
Essentially what Maimonides seems to be saying is that if the people react to the events of the world as if it is all “happenstance” then G-d will allow them to continue to experience the world in the random and happenstance fashion they have identified. As a result of such a perception, the potential for evil and tragedy becomes increased.
It is then that man allows himself to engage in the most selfish and therefore evil , of activities. It is also true that in a seemingly random reality the twists and turns of our existence are experienced as disastrous and irrational calamities.If everything is random then all that occurs in our world can never be instructive or correcting. As a result of such apperception of the world all the difficulties of our lives become meaningless and cruel.
If on the other hand if nothing is random and everything has a purpose and a direction, then even the difficult challenges that are encountered are opportunities for growth and self-perfection.
Therefore focusing on walking is critical for discovering the divine subtext in our lives. Most of humanity is rushing and running towards imaginary or desired destinations and as a result miss the lessons of the path they are on. Walking allows one to measure each step and contemplate each following step. Running towards a destination makes the journey an incomprehensive blur.
The “walk” therefore is not only the goal ,it is the means to that goal.
Go and call out in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: so said Hashem: I remember to you the lovingkindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your walking behind Me in the desert, in a land not sown.( Jeremiah 2:2)
It is in he awareness that blossoms in that “walk” that ultimate purpose and direction is found.What then is that ultimate purpose. That too described in the Torah portion of BeChukotai;
“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.” (Leviticus 26:12)
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved