> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > 1 Minute Vort on the Parsha

Slow Down!!

Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34 )

by Rabbi Eli Scheller

But if you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments… I will assign upon you panic. (Lev. 26:14)

God warns, "If you transgress the Torah, you will be punished with suffering." The Torah then elaborates on the punishments, beginning with 'I will visit upon you confusion." Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin explains this curse to mean that we will be beset with confusion and nervous tension. He notes that this curse has been fulfilled in our time; people live hectic, pressure-laden lives, rushing from one activity to the next.

In today's "instant generation" no one has patience for anything. Driving is a good example: if you want to know the smallest unit of time, try measuring the amount of time it takes from when the light turns green until the car behind you starts beeping! Our worst nightmare is getting stuck by a red light, or even worse - behind a school bus letting off children, whether we are actually in a rush or not. Stores have video screens to keep people waiting on the checkout line occupied. E-Z pass is no longer sufficient, rather we need E-Z pass Express, so that we don't have to slow down for a second. Soon we'll be able to take care of all our errands without stepping out of the car; everything will be Drive-thru!

We may think that this is all a blessing, because we can accomplish so much more in less time. However, not only is it a curse - it is the first curse mentioned in this week's Torah portion. Rabbi Sorotzkin goes on to explain that this lack of inner tranquility is a punishment for having lost our patience in our service of God. In order to regain our sense of inner peace we must set aside time for prayer and mitzvot. Then God will bless us with a life of physical and mental tranquility.

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