Walking the walk

"WALKING IN “MY STATUTES” - Word Concepts in Torah for Parshat Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34 )

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Jew walks next to synagogue
Jew walks next to synagogue
צילום: PR

In the world , the preoccupation of Torah observant Jews with “doing”  has always come under great criticism. Jews who define themselves as secular see the focus as being antiquated and irrelevant. Most of the Christian world see this preoccupation as “burden” . A burden from which to be freed.

Those two views leave Torah Jews bewildered. Why would the “fulfilling the Will of your Beloved” be considered a “burden”?  It is actually an opportunity.

Furthermore how can living a life within the Will of that Higher source ever become antiquated?

Perhaps a deeper understanding can be gleaned from the Torah portion of BeChukotai.

We read the following;

If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit…” (Vayikra/Leviticus 26:3.4).

In addition to all of the physical blessings, we read that the result of such a walk will also bring great spiritual blessing. As Hashem continues to declare;

“And I will place My dwelling in your midst, and My Spirit will not reject you; I will walk ( Eilech)  among you and be your G-d, and you will be My people." (ibid 26:11-12)

The words “If you walk in my statutes,” is an unusual formulation. It could or should have said: If you fulfill or if you obey My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them..etc.

Furthermore what is the difference between” walking in the statutes” and “keeping the commandments”?

“Keeping the commandments” is an understandable concept. Obedience to the Higher Will is the path of elevated understanding and destiny. So what does “walking in the statutes” essentially convey?

Perhaps one can understand that if the “Keeping” the commandments” describes a method of obedience to a higher purpose. Then” Walking in the statutes” is the experience  of that elevated faith.

When G-d created Adam and Eve he described to them their purpose. That purpose was to work the garden and therein learn the importance of process and of growth.

By so doing to learn "G-d" .

"Now Hashem G-d took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it."(ibid:15) .


Tending the garden was intended to be the ultimate lesson and life plan for humanity. In fact all of creation waited for the birth of man.

"Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because Hashem G-d had not brought rain upon the earth, as there was no man to work the soil." (Genesis 2:4-5)

Regrettably Adam and Eve craved the fruit immediately. The purpose of the creation was the walk and the journey, but mankind was to forever struggle with destination and shortcuts .When shortcuts are considered a virtue then the journey becomes distorted. When the destination is the only focus then the process of growth and understanding becomes stymied.

What then was to be the lesson of working and walking in the garden? The wonders of walking through a garden or a forest are immeasurable. Every flower a glimpse of creation, every blossoming tree a whiff of immortality. To quote Victor Hugo in Les Miserables "A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”

 Instead of simply glimpsing a flower ,in the midst of a “walk”  the flower becomes part of one’s emotional experience.

The preoccupation with doing is a function of being immersed in G-d consciousness . If my daily walk with Hashem is filled with acts and reminders of my relationship with G-d, then that walk is uplifted into a higher sphere. Our symbols rituals and actions become the platform of deeper understanding and it is that platform that enables greater intimacy

“What we do” is not simply viewed as an obligation but rather as an opportunity. This is so clearly hinted at in a verse in the book of Jeremiah

"Hashem who is the hope (Mikveh)  of Israel" (Jeremiah 17:13)

The words "the hope (Mikveh)  " is not simply hope but whispers of another concept . That of the womb like Mikveh or ritual pool. The obedience to Hashem's wishes gives us the unique opportunity to immerse in His will and His purpose. In that purifying experience we inevitably enter into deeper relationship and meaning.

The Hebrew word for the law defined and rooted in the five books of Moses called the Torah is Halakha. The root of the word Halakha is Halakh  (הלך )to walk.

Halakha is not simply a set of rules and structure. It is a walk of life, hand in hand with the Divine.

“And I will place My dwelling in your midst, and My Spirit will not reject you; I will walk ( Eilech)  among you and be your G-d, and you will be My people." (ibid 26:11-12)

LeRefuat Yehudit bar Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Esther

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