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Bechukotai 5774

Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!   Would you like a formula for success in life? Here are:


Three Rules For Success

  1. Initiative -- You have to try.
  2. Perseverance -- You have to keep trying.
  3. The Almighty smiles upon your efforts.


My father likes to quip that "The harder you work, the luckier you get." Our Torah teaches that telling yourself "I can't" is a big mistake. If the Almighty would help you, would you be able to do it? Remember: One person and the Almighty make a majority.

Also, telling yourself "I don't feel like doing it" is another big mistake. One should do what his soul wants (accomplishment, meaning) and not what his body desires (comfort). Don't confuse body messages for messages of the soul! Be aware if you are using any of the following to avoid the pain and effort for success:


Seven Excuses for Giving Up

  1. We've never done it that way.
  2. We're not ready for that, yet.
  3. We're doing all right without it.
  4. We tried it once and it didn't work out.
  1. It costs too much.
  2. That's not our responsibility.
  3. It won't work.



According to Jewish cosmology, the day begins with nightfall. That is why all holidays start at night after the stars can be seen. Saturday night, May 17th, begins the holiday of Lag B'Omer. You may have seen advertisements for picnics from synagogues and Jewish Community Centers.

Lag B'Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer, the period between Pesach and Shavuot. On this day the plague which was killing Rabbi Akiva's disciples stopped. It is also the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the Kabbalah, the book of Jewish Mysticism. Tradition has it that the day of his demise was filled with a great light of endless joy through the secret wisdom which he revealed to his students in the Zohar.

In Israel there are huge bonfires across the country. From Pesach onwards the children gather fallen branches and old tires and build pyres often 20 and 30 feet high. Then as the sky grows dark, they are lit and the sky is filled with flames -- and smoke. (I have often wondered what the reaction is to the pictures from the US and Russian Spy satellites.)

The fires are symbolic both of the light of wisdom Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai brought into the world and as a "yahrzeit candle" to the memory of his passing. Haircuts and weddings take place on this date and there is much festivity including dancing, singing and music.

Why the name Lag B'Omer? Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value. An aleph = 1, a bet = 2 and so forth. The two Hebrew letters lamed (30) and gimmel (3) = 33. So Lag B'Omer means the 33rd day of the Omer. [The word "Omer" literally means "sheaf" and refers to the offering of the barley sheaf in the Temple on the second day of Pesach marking the harvesting of the barley crop. From that day until Shavuot (the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the Festival of the Harvest) is called the period of the Counting of the Omer. It is a time for reflection upon how we view and treat our fellow Jews and what we can learn from the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded hatred for our fellow Jews.

For more on Lag B'Omer, I direct you to as well as for articles including -- Kabbalah and Lag B'Omer, The Mystery of Lag B'Omer, Whispering Flames: The Fire of Lag B'Omer, Lag B'Omer: Remembering Rabbi Shimon.


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Torah Portion of the week

The Torah portion sets forth the blessings that you will see in this world in response to your deeds.

It then continues with the Tochachah, words of admonition, "If you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments..." There are seven series of seven punishments each. Understand that God does not punish for punishment's sake; He wants to get our attention so that we will introspect, recognize our errors and correct our ways. God does not wish to destroy us and will never annul His covenant with us. This is the Almighty's guarantee to the Jewish people: " ... I will not grow so disgusted with them nor so tired of them that I would destroy them and break My covenant with them, since I am the Lord their God." (Deut. 26:44-45) He wants to prevent us from becoming so assimilated that we disappear as a nation. I highly recommend reading Leviticus 26:14-45.

Many religions place their basis of faith in far away promises. The Talmud teaches, "He who wishes to lie says his witnesses are far away." For example, "I have witnesses that I paid back the money I owed you, but they happen to be visiting Europe" -- or "Have faith in our religion and you will get Heaven."

While Judaism believes in an Afterlife, a World to Come, the Torah makes no promises that are "far away." It makes definitive statements of consequences in this world. This week's portion says, "If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them; then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit. Your threshing will last until the vintage, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in your land. I will provide peace in the land, and you will lie down with none to frighten you ... I will make you fruitful and increase you..."

The portion ends with instructions regarding gifts to the temple, valuation and redemption of animals, houses, fields ... and lastly, the second tithe and tithing animals. And thus ends the Book of Leviticus!

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding a person who wishes to give the value of his house to the Temple (the one that was and will be on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem):

"A person who sanctifies his house, the Cohen shall evaluate it..." (Leviticus 27:14).

The Kotzker Rebbe tangentially comments that when a person is involved in spiritual matters, it is relatively easy for him to do so in a sanctified setting. However, true holiness is when a person sanctifies the seemingly mundane activities in his household. When one behaves in an elevated manner in his own home, he is truly a holy person.

Torah ideals and principles are not only for when one is in a yeshiva (a Talmudic college) or synagogue; they are for all areas of our lives. With strangers or in a public setting it is often easier to be patient or behave properly. Therefore, one should focus that his first priority should be treating the family properly. The more sanctified your behavior at home, the greater you become!


Candle Lighting Times

May 16
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:54
Guatemala 6:05 - Hong Kong 6:38 - Honolulu 6:45
J'Burg 5:10 - London 8:28 - Los Angeles 7:31
Melbourne 5:01 - Mexico City 7:47 - Miami 7:42
New York 7:49 - Singapore 6:48 - Toronto 8:19

Quote of the Week

You can't push yourself forward by
patting yourself on the back


In Loving Memory of

Stephan Igra

Chaim Leib ben Yitzchak


With Special Thanks to

Mr. Michael Lehmann

New York



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