G’vurah in Hod in the Torah cycle.
adapted from Meta Parshiot by R David Wolfe-Blank and The Living Torah by R Aryeh Kaplan
Blessings and the Curses
Every well-planned agreement has identified benefits and identified “reorganization consequences” in the event of a bad review. This means a “penalty clause,” as it were, for poor performance. This is even more so with the covenant between the Holy One of Blessing and the Yisrael people. This Torah portion lays out visions of consequences for walking the walk and not walking the walk, as it were.
In this last chapter of Vayikra, Moshe puts a critical challenge before the people-to choose the way of Torah, the only way to have peace in the land. Moshe warns of complex re-organization procedures for all, such as chaos, fear, and disaster, if that doesn’t work out. In the last chapter, the subject of voluntary contributions for the upkeep of the temples and synagogues is mentioned.
Hazak. Be strong.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
If you walk with my huukim, care for my mitzvot, and do them…
אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֹתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם(Vayikrah 26:3)
Hookim is plural for Hok. Hok comes from the root meaning to chisel, like chiseling a rock that creates a path. There is also a spiritual chiseling that comes about through repeated action. It impacts physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. A Hok is different from law in that a logical explanation is not known.
וַיִּקַּח֙ סֵ֣פֶר הַבְּרִ֔ית וַיִּקְרָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע.
He took the covenantal scroll and read it to the ears of the people. All who spoke said, ‘we will do, and we will listen.’Sh’mot 24:7
This requires faith. Often simply doing (or not doing, depending on what is being considered) the action over time may reveal a more profound value and provide a sense of connectivity.
WHAT IS THE DIVINE WILL?
One way to understand “If you follow my laws” is if you stay in coherence with the Divine Will. What is the Divine Will? That is a big question to answer, and we can take small steps to orient. A simple way to orient is to appreciate the Holy One of Blessing gifts to each of us. These are the fabric of the world we live in and include Earth and her changing cycles (days, months, years, and more), our bodies and their cycles, and freedom of choice.
The word “mitzvot” holds a root for “order” and “invitation” within it. A mitzvah, then, is an act that provides an invitation for connectivity. Sometimes the connection is potent, and other times there is space for refinement. After practice, more profound meaning can be revealed. This is a way of “knocking at the Divine” door. It is grace when it opens.
Let’s try this again with this new understanding:
אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֹתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַֽעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם
If you honor My guidance – even ones that do not make sense to you, and you suspend disbelief and walk with them, try them, and you continue to nurture the acts that you discern and invite My Presence into your life by doing them, then the blessing will follow.(Vayikrah 26:3)
This is a co-creative process. We can tell when an act brings resonance and when it is dissonant. This is a way of making Sh’khinah, The Divine Presence, your partner.
Nature’s cycles are a guide to worshiping The Creator of All.
Nature’s cycles are a guide to worshiping The Creator of All. This is why Jewish practice is deeply connected to the cycles of time. Consider traditional prayer times; morning, noon, and night; festivals are often oriented around the full moon’s glow, and the annual Jewish calendar is based on seasons. Meeting Earth is meeting an aspect of Sh’khinah, and honoring Earth equates with supporting Her holy Presence. These gifts are enormous resources for a happy and productive life.
THIS PARSHAH COUNTS HESED IN HOD
THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY
Privacy is defined as “the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people:’ It is a human right for both women and men to share what we wish with whomever we want to. Many sad reasons would cause a woman to abort a pregnancy, and there is no reason she should need to explain any of it to government authorities, much less be denied access.
The question of the woman’s right to choose has everything to do with the woman’s right to privacy.
Do women have a right to privacy under the law?
Not in the state of Texas. Today, residents of that state are incentivized to report anyone getting an abortion or helping facilitate one to the authorities with no exceptions. Having an abortion or helping someone terminate a pregnancy is a punishable legal offense. Those who turn in offenders get a cash reward. It is terrifying that it is happening. Furthermore, there is incentive for it to turn into a “witch hunt”, since people get paid for each person, they turn in. Women are being seen primarily as breeders, and their babies are the product. This is invasive, insulting, and people will die as a result of this law.
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, women in the United States will not have agency or privacy related to their bodies. Their state governments will decide. Personal privacy has already started to erode in Texas. This is happening even with Roe as law.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Having said that, a human’s body is a brilliant, refined, and complex vehicle. It is our personal gift from The Creator all, the chariot for the soul. It empowers our God given privilege of freedom of choice.
Abortion is a difficult choice under any circumstance. It is unlikely government intervention will help at a personal and tender time like that. The very idea of regulation is horrifying.
In Europe 95% of european patients of reproductive age live in countries where they can get abortions on demand for broad socio-economic reasons. That is because our health care choices are none of the government’s business. They are personal.
OWNERSHIP AND EQUAL RIGHTS
The idea of a woman not controlling her own body is a hologram of a mindset when women were purchased and considered property. A good woman was a good breeder, and a successful woman was the mother of many. Until fairly recently, this was the only option available for women. Fortunately, today there are many additional ways for women to contribute today.
Equal rights for women mean having control over what does or does not happen to your body. All the time. No exceptions. Resistance to women’s rights and equality remain. It is easy to forget that women received the right to vote just over 100 years ago. The old mindset of women as property remains imprinted on many. We have a long way to go.