Behukotai 2024


By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron

This parsha emphasizes the keeping of Torah study and mitzvot as a condition to Israel’s ability to settle in the Holy Land securely. This painting depicts how the Torah is our tree of life, as explicitly mentioned in words at the top of the painting. To express this idea there is also a Torah scroll painted as if planted in a flower in the midst of trees, and from its wood holders, commonly called “atzei haim” – “woods/trees of life” – sprout leaves. On the covering of the Torah scroll we find the image of the Menora which is also depicted in the Torah in vegetative terms such as “flowers” and “stems.” The scroll, the trees, and the flower are found in the city of Zion, yet again depicting the idea of settlement in the Holy Land – Zion as being dependent on the keeping of the Torah “enrooted” among us, and thus, measure for measure Israel also merits to be “enrooted” in the Holy Land through secure settlement. Surrounding the walled city of Jerusalem we see four trees which may hint to the four couples buried at Maarat Hamachpela and upon which Hebron is also called Kiryat Arba – the City of Four. These couples may be depicted by trees, for in their merit Israel are enrooted in and connected to the Holy Land like trees are enrooted in the earth. Indeed, also the name Hebron, which means connection, also stands for this, connecting and tying Israel to its Holy Land, Land of the Torah through which the Holy Presence rests.