Walking the Walk
Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34 )
Judaism is about moving forward at a slow and steady pace.
This week's portion begins, "If you will walk with My statutes." This is a strange turn of phrase - walk with my statutes. I could understand God instructing us to "do" the statutes, or "observe" the statutes. But to walk with them?
The explanation is that Torah is about walking. Moving forward at a slow and steady pace - not sitting still, but equally not running. Walking is what gets you to God. If you stand still and wait for Him to come to you, He might not. But equally, if you expect to be able to get where you want overnight, you will also fail. Slow and sure wins the race. Bit by bit, steady, daily growth leads us to Godliness.
Judaism does not believe in an "all or nothing" approach. Every command is a unique opportunity for Godliness - and it is independent of every other command. I always say that if a Jew cannot help himself from eating in McDonalds, he should at least try to have a plain burger instead of a cheeseburger. At least he's not having milk with the non-kosher meat. And if you're not going to fast on Yom Kippur, at least try to eat a bit less.
To give a more universal example: It's wrong to steal, but if you steal from someone, at least be nice and give him bus fare home. Doing one bad thing does not mean you should do another - or be an impediment to doing a good thing.
This is not hypocrisy; it is being realistic. Hypocrisy is when you pretend to be something you are not - when you pretend to fast on Yom Kippur even though you are eating in secret. Being realistic means having the realization that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. If we are waiting to be perfect before we try to be good, we will most likely end up being bad.
The path to God is one that must be "walked." Every step is valuable, every step counts. And two steps back, with one step forward, is better than just two steps back. Being a good person does not mean getting everything right. It means "walking" in the right direction. You may never reach perfection, but you will accomplish a great deal along the way.