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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Updated: May 29

This week we read Parshat B'chukotai, the final parsha in Sefer Vayikra. B'chukotai is not an easy parsha to read because it not only contains a short list of blessings for the Hebrews, but the blessings are followed by a long list of curses should the tribes not adhere to the covenant that they have entered into with YHWH. This list of curses, which is often whispered or rushed through when read in synagogues now, is lengthy, graphic and dramatic, not to mention terrifying.

Contending with a curse railed upon you by other humans is frightening, but receiving a series of threatening curses by the God you fear goes well beyond frightening and into the range of incomprehensible. It helps a bit to know that this language of blessings and curses appears in other ancient treaties between leaders and their subjects. When the list of curses finally comes to a close there are a few brief words to help smooth over the terror of reading the curses. This appears in Vayikra 26:44,45

"Yet, even then, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or spurn them so as to destroy them, annulling My covenant with them: for I יהוה am their God.

I will remember in their favor the covenant with the ancients, whom I freed from the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God: I, יהוה."

Curses are not forever. They eventually come to an end. We are not forgotten and the covenant is remembered. These few sentences are like a small window that opens with hope that trickles in. So for these few minutes, let's shift our focus from curses and darkness, to hope.

Wishing you hope, positivity and understanding.



Hope.  There is always hope.

Sometimes hope is hard to find over the whispers; between the discontent and the constant banging of the drums of history. I am not sure what hope looks like, what form it takes and whether we are all allotted the same amount in our lives. I'm not sure of whether hope is activated only under certain circumstances or it is a constant. I wonder as I write this, whether we inherit hope from our parents, or it is a function of our individual circumstances, or perhaps our shared tradition?

Perhaps hope was one of those final, last minute things that God created as the sun set on that first Friday afternoon, as the work of creation was completed. Perhaps hope was given to humans along with the gifts of eyesight or the ability to breathe and to reason and hope only appears when reason and logic no longer make sense.

Maybe hope means different things to different people and perhaps it changes at different times of our lives, or different dark periods of history. At times it seems hopelessly buried under mountains of misfortune or under the rubble of war or beneath the conflagration of words that choke us with their smoke. Perhaps hope is lodged between breaths so painful it feels we cannot take another.

I don’t know the origins of hope, but perhaps it comes along with the blessings and the curses of Parshat Bechukotai, a three for one package of sorts. Blessings (a few), curses (many and vivid) and then an opening appears; just a tiny light, a parting of the clouds, something we can hold onto. A small glimmer that things just might end up ok.


I just know it is there. Sometimes it needs to be coaxed out by us, and sometimes we need others coax it to life, but have no doubt that hope exists. At good times, uncertain times and when times are very dark, remember.


We need it.

See it,

just past the sadness and loss.

Help someone unlock theirs.

Dust it off.

It belongs to you.


Hatikvah- The Hope


On the last things created at the end of the sixth day.


Other posts in Words Have Wings on Parshat B'chukotai


וְזָכַרְתִּ֥י לָהֶ֖ם בְּרִ֣ית

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