By Ilan Goldman
Former Rav-Shaliach, Bnei Akiva England
Currently Executive Director, Project Aseret


For the PDF Version: בהר בחוקותי5780אנגלית

וְזָכַרְתִּי אֶת בְּרִיתִי יַעֲקוֹב וְאַף אֶת בְּרִיתִי יִצְחָק וְאַף אֶת בְּרִיתִי אַבְרָהָם אֶזְכֹּר וְהָאָרֶץ אֶזְכֹּר,
“I will remember My covenant with Yaacov and also My covenant with Yitzchak; I will also remember My covenant with Avraham and I will remember the Land”.

The Parasha begins with nine psukim of reward if we choose to obey Hashem. Following this, there is an extended elaboration of curses if we choose not to. The pasuk above is quoted within these pesukim of curses. How is Hashem remembering the covenant of the fathers and the Land a bad thing? Some commentators have explained that this is indeed expressing a problem. It would be one thing if a nation sins, but for the nation that descended from Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov, which has such a strong bond with the holy Land of Israel – it is far worse.

However, since this pasuk is part of davening on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur and is mentioned in a positive form in order to awaken Hashem’s memory and therefore His mercy, it seems more likely to view this pasuk as an island of hope within despair. According to this understanding we have a pasuk of nechama (comfort) ‘planted’ into the curses. Surely the curses would have a stronger effect if we were not comforted in the middle of them. Why then is the nechama mentioned here?

I once heard about a man who was removed from his home during the Disengagement. He was sure that he would be as strong as he always was and that he would not become emotional as the army came in to their settlement. And yet he found himself weeping. To this he said: ‘when you uproot a tree, the deep roots are revealed, which we would not have recognized otherwise’.
So too here, when Hashem smites us with all the horrific curses which are mentioned in the Parasha, our deep and well-rooted bond with Hashem is then revealed. It is then that we may realise that regardless of our deeds and their rewards or punishments, we as a people are strongly connected to Hashem. We have a bond that goes as far back as the nation does and it is this bond that began in the times of Avraham and Sarah which has always been there. Both at the good moments in our history and at the bad as well, this bond will forever accompany us as a nation.

comments: ilanrgoldman@gmail.com