Tag Archives: Bechukotai

“For he will be like a tree planted by the waters”

Behukotai“A Tree Planted by the waters” by Laya Crust

Bechukotai is the last reading in the Book of Leviticus, a book devoted to teaching b’nei Yisrael how to conduct their lives. God sets out clear and detailed guidelines referring to acceptable morals and behaviour. There are directives on everything from marriage, to diet, to respecting the land. After all the rules have been laid we are told what will happen if we don’t follow the laws.

God says that if we follow His laws and observe His commandments “I will grant you rains in their season, so the earth shall yield its produce…I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone…” (26: 4, 26:6). It sounds so idyllic! The earth will be bountiful, noone will bother God’s people, and they will live in peace, harmony and comfort. But wait a minute…God continues with a warning…

“But if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments, if you reject My laws and spurn My rules…I will wreak misery upon you…” (26: 14, 16) God’s warnings don’t stop there . They  become harsher and harsher. The text is frightening but finally the severity is mitigated. It is followed by God then telling His people that He will never forget them and will remember His covenant with them. God knows that the Israelites will return and will once again become strong and bountiful. The desolation is followed by hope.

P1150004Tamarisk tree in the desert by Laya Crust

The haftarah follows the same theme. Jeremiah begins by telling the Israelites that their sins are written on their hearts and they will be punished.  But he also says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust the Lord is. For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, and spreads out its roots by the river, and he will not see when the heat comes. Its foliage will be lush and will not be anxious in the year of drought. And it will not cease from yielding fruit.” He says those who depend only on men will be like a tree that grows on parched land in the wilderness. But one who trusts in God will be like a tree planted by the waters which spreads its roots by the river.  The tree will flourish even during a drought.

The message of desolation turning to hope exemplifies the Jewish people. It also delivers a  personal and comforting message.

We as individuals have choices throughout our lives. We can follow a path of good, of mediocrity or of evil. We can take our strengths and gifts and use them to improve our surroundings, we can ignore those gifts, or we can use them selfishly. There are people we meet throughout our lives who use their talents and make visible improvements to the world around them. One such man was Dr. Eli Cohen z”l.

Dr. Cohen was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1938 where his family had lived since about 500 BCE. In 1951, when it became dangerous for the Jews living in Iraq, his family emigrated to Israel. They had to relinquish their Iraqi citizenship, and all their assets were either frozen or taken by the state. He never forgot his country, the house where they lived, or the open hospitality of his mother. When he was 18 he joined the Israeli Defense Forces as a paratrooper commando. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hebrew University then left Israel to further pursue his education in Manitoba, Canada. Ultimately Eli earned four degrees, in genetics and then statistics.  One of the technologies he developed is a medical instrument that monitors whole blood coagulation mainly during surgery (TEG). The TEG is used in hospitaals internationally and has saved thousands and thousands of lives and improved surgical outcomes.

Eli and his wife Carole developed the company Haemoscope together. Together they raised three phenomenal children, mentored countless students and employees, and created a caring workplace. They invested in and cared about their employees and never lost sight of the people whose lives would be saved through the technology.

As it says in Jeremiah 17:8,  “For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, and spreads out its roots by the river, …And it will not cease from yielding fruit.”  Dr. Eli Cohen z”l has left a legacy of beauty, generosity, vision and kindness. He improved the world through his family and research, and they will continue to improve the world for generations.

With thanks to Carole Cohen and Dr. Eli Cohen z”l, may we all strive to be like a tree planted by the waters. not afraid of the heat and spreading out our roots to be strong and give sustenance to those who need it.

May you have a foliage full, and fruitful week, and a Shabbat shaded by those you love.

Laya

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Bechukotai

BehukotaiSig
Jeremiah  16:19 – 17:14

Jeremiah- prophet, ca 640 – 568 BCE

Jeremiah lived in the ancient land of Judah at a very difficult time for the Jews. He began to prophecy when he was 18 during the reign of King Josiah.  A scroll was found in the Temple and King Josiah re-established Jewish law- much to the displeasure of the idol worshiping law-ignoring Israelites.

Jeremiah begins this haftarah by telling B’nei Yisrael that their sins are written on their hearts and they will be punished. He continues by saying that those who depend only on men will be like a tree that grows on parched land in the wilderness. But one who trusts in God will be like a tree planted by the waters which spreads its roots by the river.  He goes on to say that the tree will be calm in the year of drought. The terminology is beautiful, giving the tree emotion and human feeling.

The prophet Jeremiah was not respected. He was a tragic figure. He spent his life lonely- unmarried, unpopular, and derided. He so wanted to help the Jewish people that he dictated his prophecies to his scribe Baruch and had them read to the current king, King Jehoiakim. The scrolls were burned so Jeremiah had them written and presented again.

Jeremiah was an idealist.  He spent his entire life trying to reawaken faith in the hearts of the Jews.  He preached peace and encouraged compliance  to a population that wanted war and revolt. He was imprisoned for his outspoken support of observance to God, and ultimately had to flee to Egypt after Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Israel.  Jeremiah died in exile, in Egypt.

Maybe Jeremiah is like that tree of uprightness that he spoke aboout in this week’s haftarah. He led a difficult and sad life but his words lived on. His thoughts were strong like a tree, nourished by the waters of truth.  His ideas continued to grow and nurture even in times of drought. And we still read Jeremiah’s words and learn from them.

Share these thoughts on the Haftarah and Jeremiah on Facebook, and with your friend, family and students. Have a Shabbat Shalom,

Laya

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bechukotai

Behukotai

The parsha of Bechukotai begins with G-d stating that if we will walk in G-d’s ways and follow the laws the land will be fruitful and there will be peace. “And if you will walk in My statutes and keep My commandments and do them; then I will give you rains in their season, and the land shall yield their produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” On the other hand, if we don’t follow the statutes there will be terror, illness and famine.
Jeremiah continues this theme in the haftarah. He scolds the people and warns them of the results of not obeying HaShem. But he also says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust the Lord is. For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, and spreads out its roots by the river, and he will not see when the heat comes. Its foliage will be lush and will not be anxious in the year of drought. And it will not ease from yielding fruit.”
This full tree is shown with beautiful, colourful fruit near a river, with its roots reaching out to touch the river.

 

Leave a comment

May 7, 2013 · 9:26 pm