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Bechukotai 2019

“I will remember My covenant with Yaakov and also My covenant with Yitzchak, and also My covenant with Avraham will I remember…” (26:42)

The conclusion of the “tochacha” relays that Hashem will ultimately remember His covenant made with the Patriarchs and in their merit Bnei Yisroel will be redeemed.

Rashi questions why the term ‘remember’ is used for Avraham and Yaakov but not for Yitzchak?

The Ba’al Haturim addresses this issue and suggests that Hashem particularly remembers the virtues of Avraham and Yaakov, for they observed the mitzvot both inside and outside the Land of Israel, whereas Yitzchak only observed the mitzvot in Israel.

In Parshat Eikev, Rashi comments that the purpose of wearing tefillin and placing mezuzot on our doorposts outside of Eretz Yisroel is so that we will be proficient in the observance of these mitzvot upon our return to the Land. The Ramban expands this notion to include all mitzvot, implying that the purpose of observing mitzvot outside of Israel is merely to prevent us from forgetting how to perform them, for only in the Land of Israel are we truly bound by their performance. The Ramban requires further elaboration, for it appears as if there is no intrinsic value in performing mitzvot outside of Eretz Yisroel.

The Midrash notes an analogy which offers insight into the Ramban’s suggestion. A king is angered by his wife and sends her to her father’s home. Whilst there, her father instructs her to continue wearing her regal clothing. The Ksav Vekaboleh explains that the message of the Midrash is that not only does this action prevent her from forgetting the required procedure for when she will eventually be summoned back to the palace but that it also maintains her own elevated status by affording honour to her estranged husband. Similarly, by performing the mitzvot outside of Eretz Yisroel, we show our desire to continue our relationship with Hashem, despite the lack of reciprocity.

Yitzchak reached great levels of holiness and maintained a flawless relationship with Hashem yet he was not faced with the challenge of serving Hashem under circumstances where there was no perceived relationship. Avraham and Yaakov excelled in their observance even when the relationship appeared completely one-sided. Therefore, their merits have a greater impact upon their descendants.

Shabbat Shalom. (Based on an idea by Rabbi Yochanan Zweig)

Zoe Daniels

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