Since Abraham, Israelites and Jews have been on physical, spiritual and moral journeys. This week’s Sidra, Bechukotai, contains in its first ten verses three applications of the Hebrew root HaLaCH (to go) which contain a beautiful insight into how Jews can encounter God from different angles.
The first appearance of the root is in the beginning where God promises rain, peace and fertility if the Israelites “walk (telechu) in My laws …” This suggests that the Israelites must be active in order to achieve God’s desire. In our times, if we observe God’s laws as determined by the Halacha, we can be comforted by the knowledge that our “walking” is helping us fulfil God’s wishes.
Secondly, in verse 12 God pledges – in a reflexive use of the verb, vehithalachti – to “walk amongst you”. In addition to our walking towards God’s commandments, because of our observance of God‘s laws, God will also walk amongst us.
The third usage is in verse 13 when God reminds the Israelites that God brought them out of Egypt and made them “walk upright”. Here lies a possible clue to what God is preparing us for. As opposed to a slave, a free person walks “upright”. Having been freed from slavery, we can choose whether to walk in God’s path or not.
A.J. Heschel argues passionately that God is searching for us as much as the other way round and in order for us to find God, we must position ourselves in a place where we can be found. In this interpretation, perhaps we can appreciate that while both God and us will “walk”, God has already taken the first steps; and we will be found and God will truly walk amongst us.
Shabbat Shalom—Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: Michael Wegier)