On Friday, May 18, we honored the 19 graduates of Woodlands Community Temple. I shared the following drash:
Our Torah portion this week, Bekhukhotai, tells us one thing pretty clearly: if you follow all of God’s laws, things will go pretty well for you. In particularly, the physical land of Israel will treat you well: it will rain, your crops will grow. Your enemies won’t bother you, you’ll live in peace.
But the reverse comes into play too. If you don’t follow the laws, if you break the covenant, God will break it too. You’ll be punished with some pretty nasty punishments: physical afflictions, starvation, expulsion…but don’t worry, Torah assures, if you abide by God’s rules, you can avoid all of this.
We wish it could be that easy. The truth is that the world we’re sending you out into is unfair. You’ll be rewarded for no good reason; you’ll be punished for no good reason. Every time this happens, you’ll be surprised by it.
We know that, and our ancient ancestors knew that. Therefore, I don’t think the Torah is advocating that you try to find a deeper meaning in this chaotic reality of our world. Rather, I believe it is telling us that our actions matter.
Your actions matter. How you approach both the good and the bad in your life matters. And like God, all we can hope is that we’ve given you guidelines and values by which you can meet those unfair and fair challenges of the world.
That’s in the written Torah; that is the Torah we’ve shared as a group over the years. That is what we gird you with as your step out into the world.