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If you go in My statutes and observe my commandments and perform them (Vayikra 26:3). I will turn to you I will make you fruitful and increase you and I will establish my covenant with you (Ibid 26, 9).
Our parsha opens by informing us that if we observe the statutes and mitzvos of the Torah we will merit great blessing. Rashi explains that the word “statutes” cannot refer to the commandments of the Torah for this is stated explicitly in the posuk. It must refer to something else, that being, “toil in Torah study.”
The commentators note that Torah study here is expressed with the unusual verb, “toil.” This interpretation is derived from the fact that the Torah connects the word “statutes” to the expression “you will go.” This phrase has the connotation of an intensified striving which can be properly expressed in connection to Torah study with the word “toil.”
It is noteworthy that Rabainu Bachya provides a different interpretation of the word “statutes.” He says that it refers to the previous parsha, specifically to the laws of sh’me’tah and yovel. The posuk is interpreted as saying, if you observe the aforementioned laws of sh’me’tah and yovel as well as all the other Torah commandments you will merit great blessing.
It emerges that the word “statutes” may refers to either “toil in Torah study” or the observance of the laws of sh’me’tah and yovel. We may ask what do sh’me’tah, yovel and toil in Torah study have in common? Seemingly they are contradictory. Toil in Torah involves great effort and exertion whereas observance of sh’me’tah and yovel involve rest.
We may answer by suggesting that the Torah here is defining exactly what it means to toil in Torah study. There are two ways one can study Torah. One can study Torah while being preoccupied with other worldly pursuits or one can study Torah in an environment removed from all distractions. Surely the superior quality of Torah study of the latter kind does not compare to the former. To qualify as “Toil” in Torah study, one must actively remove all distractions and desist from the mundane activities of life as one does in the years of sh’me’tah and yovel.
We may now understand a posuk later in this chapter. The posuk says that as a reward for our observance of the statutes, “I (Hashem) will turn to you, will make you fruitful and increase you.” Rashi comments that this is interpreted to means that Hashem will turn away from all His concerns in order to pay our reward. Hence, we derive from Rashi that there are two types of blessings. One is when Hashem bestows what appears to be a less intense blessing. From our perspective, it may appear as if Hashem is preoccupied with other matters when He grants our reward. The other type of blessing is an intensified blessing. From our perspective it appears that Hashem turns away from His other concerns and fully concentrates in bestowing our reward.
In our parsha, Hashem is promising the second type of blessing. This is precisely measure for measure. Just as toil in Torah study involves blocking out all distractions and concerns to focus on the study of Torah, likewise Hashem rewards us in a similar fashion. His blessing is intensified to the degree where it appears as if He entirely focuses on us.
© Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5763/2003