It was Rudyard Kipling who wrote about the importance of the word If.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run —
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
If is a most powerful word, if yes and if not.
And it is this very word that is the central axis of this week’s Parshah, Parshat BeChokotai.
“If you follow My statutes and keep My commandments to do them, then I will give rains in the proper time and the land will produce food and the trees will give fruit.”
“If you do not listen to Me and do not do My commandments, but you reject My statutes and your souls are disgusted by My laws that you will not do all My commandments to break My covenant. Then I will do this to you…”
There follows a list of ailments and calamities that will befall the Jewish people if they choose the wrong path.
If and If. We are presented with a choice, to follow and reap the rewards, or to reject and pay the penalty.
We live in a world in which people are quick to blame others and all possible causes are raised as defense of bad actions. The parents are to blame, society is to blame, the media, the internet etc etc. The Torah focuses on the real source of our actions, be they good or bad.
The choice is ours, if we want we will do good and if not…
We can blame ourselves and ourselves only, and therefore the call of the Torah to follow the law and the statutes falls not only to the Jewish people but to each and every one of us as well.
If you can take control of your actions
When all are blaming others
If you can do good despite the odds
While others are bad regardless
If you can stand up and be counted
While others sit and ignore the count
Then you are a true servant of God and a true Jew.