May 4, 2002
As the Book of Vayikra, the book of sanctity, draws to a close, the Torah delineates the consequences of obedience and disobedience to Hashem's will. This is the Tochechah, the passage of admonition (chapter 26) that concludes the covenant of Sinai. If the people embrace Hashem's commands, the land will be blessed with prosperity, security and peace (verses 3-13). Conversely, rejecting Hashem's edicts will result in the curses of disease (verses 16-17), famine (verses 18-20), wild beasts (verses 21-22), war (verses 23-26), destruction and exile (verses 27-39).
The purpose of these warnings is to stir the people to repentance. If the people do not heed the warnings, then the disasters become increasingly more dire.
Unique to this chapter is the word KERI, appearing a significant seven times - and nowhere else in Tanach - at transition points in this passage:
And if you walk with Me KERI, and you will not desire to listen to Me, then I will add against you a plague, seven times your sins (26:21).
Malbim (R. Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michael, 1809-1877) notes that KERI is first mentioned after the two warnings of disease and famine. Upon the determining third occasion of disregarding Hashem's punishment, there follows the plague of wild beasts:....
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