Parshat Behar-Bechukoti

“Od yavo shalom aleinu” – Mosh Ben Ari

Why does this week’s double parsha, Behar-Bechukotai, contain not one but two blessings for peace and security in the land of Israel? The answers are especially resonant for Israel today. 

God promises that if we follow God’s laws and mitzvot, we will receive God’s blessings. Rashi sees significance in the order of the brachot: produce, prosperity and only then, peace. Rashi teaches that the blessings conclude with peace to teach that shalom is equivalent to all the other blessings. Without peace, other blessings can’t last. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z”tl notes the similarity between this Rashi and the final mishna in Shas which reads: God has no vessel containing blessing other than peace, as it says, ‘God gives strength to His people; God blesses His people with peace.’ (Tehillim 29)” Concluding the entire Mishna on this note emphasizes that peace is the ultimate blessing, from which all other blessings flow. 

Similarly, the amidah prayer ends with a request for peace in the paragraph “sim shalom” or “shalom rav.” This is how we take-leave of Hashem in tefilla. Our requests for different blessings in the amidah culminates in the most significant one of all – peace for all of Israel. 

Why then does the parsha contain a double blessing for peace when it states: “You will dwell securely in your land,” and immediately following this, “I will grant peace in the land?” The Or ha-Hayyim explains that each of the two brachot for peace has its own purpose. One blessing is for peace between Israel and its enemies and the other blessing is for Am Yisrael in particular, so that there should not be internal divisiveness among the Jewish people and so that God will plant within us a seed of mutual tolerance. Today especially, may God bless Israel with both external and internal shalom. Shabbat Shalom -Karen Miller Jackson

*photo from Jerusalem’s old city