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Parashat Behukotai


“If you keep my commandments, I will give rain in their season.”


The Torah describes abundant material blessings for the observance of its statutes. However, motivation by reward and punishment is a juvenile concept. Mature thinking people do good for the sake of doing good. Although belief in reward and punishment is one of the 13 principles of our faith, the Torah generally does not elaborate on these in order that they do not become the motivation for good actions.


How then do we understand the blessings in our Torah portion this week? The Midrash states that the world was created according to the principles of Torah. The Torah is likened to a blueprint manual for the world. Abiding by the guidelines will result in the proper function of the world, which will then deliver its fruit. Neglecting the guidelines will result in the malfunction of the world. The earthly benefits and detriments that are described in the Torah thus are not to be understood as rewards and punishments, but as the natural consequences of heeding or neglecting the manufacturers instructions. Therefore, reward and punishment, which are foundations of our faith, is a subject totally apart from the promises and warnings described in the Torah.