Drash on Parashat Bechukotai 2019
Mashpia JoEllen Duckor
Wellington, New Zealand
I have mixed feelings of relief and sadness when we finish reading Leviticus. It takes me a while to get into the rhythm of the book and then by the time I am fully immersed, the book is almost over.
Behukotai, By my Laws, is the final portion of the Book of Leviticus and consists of warnings about the consequences of our actions. We are reminded that everything is connected. Our behaviour, the degree to which we act with compassion and lovingkindness, affects the whole world. The blessings and the curses are deeply connected to how we behave.
I recently learned that our sages found that the Ashrei, Psalm 145 is of vital importance and that is why we say it three times a day. Particularly verse 16: “Poteach et yadecha u’masbia lechol chai ratzon: You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of all life.”
A beautiful translation from Rabbi Shefa Gold is: “You open your hand, I open my heart to this abundance and all life, all will is satisfied.”
“This is the verse that embodies the interconnectedness of all creation, and the verse that offers us the possibility of renewing, daily, our commitment to satisfying the desires of every living being.” (Rabbi Rebecca Milder)
Leviticus contains the laws that help us live as a society, a community of people who help each other, who don’t hurt each other, who respect each others property and relationships and who come together to celebrate and to mourn, who regard life, all life as sacred.
Verse 16 from Psalm 145 reminds us that when God opens Gods hand...we open our heart and that is how it works. We are God’s hands.
You open Your hand, and we open our hearts ... in these words, we can hear all the other verses, all the laws of Leviticus that teach us how to live together in peace.