By: Elizabeth Ebner (9th)
This week’s Parsha, Parshat Bechukotai, begins with Hashem’s words, “אם בחקתי תלכו ואת מצותי תשמרו”, which translates to, “If you follow My statuses and observe My commandments and perform them”. If you think about it, it seems a bit odd to begin a parsha this way, though. Why does it begin with “אם”, or “if”?
To begin with, in the days of Paraoh, when the Jews were slaves in Egypt, we were reedeemed through Moshe - משה and Aharon - אהרן.
When Haman wanted to destroy the Jewish nation, it was Mordechai - מרדכי and Esther - אסתר who redeemed us.
The Jews were redeemed from the Babylonian exile and the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash through King Artachshasta - ארתחשסתא, Queen Esther’s son, and during the time of Chanukah, the Jews were redeemed from the Greek oppressors by Matityahu - מתתיהו and the Maccabees, his sons.
Lastly, in current times today, every Jew hopes and prays for Eliyahu - אליהו and Mashiach - משיח to come and redeem us.
If you didn’t notice, within each group of redeemers, one of their names begins with an א and the other a מ, which spell out the word that Parshat Bechukotai begins with: אם.
Therefore, the parsha opens up with the word “אם”, meaning “if”, to hint to us how to receive this redemption from Eliyahu and Mashiach, to get to this אם, is to “בחקתי תלכו ואת מצותי תשמרו”, “follow My statuses and observe My commandments and perform them”.