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Ask the Rabbi
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
The Torah portion, “Bechukotai,” is known as the portion of rebuke. The portion begins with the Almighty’s promise that if the Jews observe the commandments of the Torah, then prosperity, blessing, and peace will be their joyous lot. However, if they turn away from the holy Brit (covenant), G-d warns them that terrible curses and sufferings will be their fate - they will be pursued and ravaged by their enemies and forcibly expelled from the land into exile where they will be relentlessly persecuted and killed:
“But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all of these commandments, and if you shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that you will not do all of the commandments, but that you break My Brit, I also will do this to you: I will appoint over you terror, consumption, and fever, that shall consume thy eyes, and cause sorrow of heart, and you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it…. And if you will not be admonished by Me as a result of these things, but you will walk in contrariness (keri) to me, then I will also walk contrary to you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge My Brit; and when you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy...” (Vayikra, Behukotai, 26:14-25).
The saintly Tzaddik and holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, grandfather of the holy Baba Sali, explains this entire Torah portion as referring to sexual transgression, known as blemishes of the Brit:
“As is known, someone who blemishes the holy Brit, even though he observes all of the Torah, his doings are for naught. As the holy Zohar writes, a person who does not have fear of sin in matters of the Brit, has no fear of G-d in anything he does. This is because his body which performs the commandments is blemished. Thus, everything which he does is blemished.
“According to the holy Zohar, the verse: ‘Be afraid of the sword, for wrath over sins brings the sword’ (Iyov, 19:20) refers to this. Both the Rishonim (early rabbinical authorities) and Achronim (later rabbinical authorities) have stated that the majority of man’s sufferings, whether through pestilence, the sword, or famine result from transgressions to the Brit.
“And whatever mitzvot and good deeds that a person does, as long as his Brit is blemished, it all goes to the Other Side (the forces of evil), may G-d have mercy.
“Whoever blemishes the holy Brit is considered to have been false to the seal of the King of Kings, the Holy One Blessed Be He. This is the meaning of ‘We have not been false to your Brit.’
“Therefore, a person who comes to serve G-d should first rectify any blemish to the Brit in the proper fashion, and afterward begin to serve G-d.
“For the matter of transgressing the Brit, and all of the sufferings that stem from this, is referred in this rebuke (in Bechukotai). So that when the verse says: ‘But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all of these commandments, and if you shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that you will not do all of the commandments, but that you break My Brit...,’ it does not mean to say that they do not do any of the precepts, or that they do not occupy themselves with Torah; but rather, they do occupy themselves with Torah, and they do perform the commandments, but the main thing is missing, for the Brit, which is the principle matter, is blemished and has not be rectified. Since the Brit is blemished and has not been rectified, everything is canceled and considered naught.
“Therefore, whoever desires to do t’shuva, let him first rectify blemishes to the Brit, and after that the things he does to please G-d will succeed.”
(From the book, “Abir Yaacov,” section, Pitochei Chotam; Bechukotai)
One of the things that most blemishes the Brit is improper Internet viewing habits. From the letters we receive at jewishsexuality.com, it is clear that no one is safe from this danger - adults, teenagers, children, teachers, and rabbis.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank readers who sent donations toward the printing and free distribution of the Hebrew “Shmirat HaBrit” pamphlet in Israel to soldiers, yeshiva students, youth groups, high school students, and educators. Many prominent rabbis have enthusiastically endorsed the project. We still need funds to increase our printing and outreach, so I urge everyone to send a donation in order to give Internet victims the tools they need to climb out from the cavern of impurity and addiction into which they have fallen.
Donations can be earmarked for the non-profit Israel charitable organization, “Am K’Lavi” and marked for “The Brit Book.” Please send checks to “The Brit Book” 19 Shoshana Street, Jerusalem, Israel 96149. To receive U.S. tax exemption recognition, donations over $500 should be made out to the Central Fund For Israel and mailed to the above address. May the All Merciful bless you from Zion.
For those of you who haven’t done so already, you can download the English version of the “Shmirat HaBrit” pamphlet at jewishsexuality.com.