Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Bechukotai
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Amram son of Sultana

Parashat Bechukotai

Komamiyut / Upright


Rabbi Emanuel Feldman

Iyar, 5763
The last word of the glorious blessing which opens Sedrah Behukotai is the word komamiyut: "I have broken the bars of your yoke, va-olech etchem komamiyut / and made you walk upright." (Vayikra 26:13) This is the only time this word is used in the entire Torah.

It implies inner pride, self-respect, self-confidence. When G-d freed us from the yoke of Egypt, he simultaneously instilled these qualities within us - qualities which we had lost during our sojourn as slaves of Pharoah. The ideal way to serve G-d is with humility before the King of Kings, but also with an inner pride that we are worthy to stand before the King of Kings.

We come across komamiyut in our daily prayers as well - in that magnificent paragraph that precedes the Shema Yisroel. We ask that G-d "bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth, and then we add - in what is almost a direct paraphrase of the words in our Sedrah - vetolicheinu komamiyut le-artzenu/"and lead us upright to our land." It would have been enough to ask that He lead us to our Land. The addition of the work "komamiyut/upright, " however, adds a new dimension. It implies that not only is it preferable to return to G-d’s Land in an upright position literally - and not wait to be carried there - but that, figuratively as well, we must have the self-confidence and knowledge to return to the Land with pride, in the face of our enemies who would deny us this right.

How is this pride and self-confidence achieved? The construction of this pre-Shema paragraph suggests the progression. It opens with the prayer that G-d in his love for us will teach us His Torah, open our hearts and minds to it, and enlighten our minds so that we understand and practice it. The paragraph closes with the prayer to return upright to the Land - but this is not simply an afterthought, nor is it a new subject. Instead, it follows logically from all that precedes it: we will be worthy of returning to the Land with pride and self respect and self-confidence to the Land only when we have exposed ourselves to the Torah.

Even a surface glance at Israel today substantiates this vies. Those who are most supportive of the Land, who live in it with pride and self-confidence, are those who know the Torah. Those who are least supportive, who are apologetic about being here and are willing to give away even the holiest of places, are by and large the least knowledgeable of Torah.

The same holds true in terms of Aliyah to the Land. Those who come to Israel to live are overwhelmingly observant Jews. Those who are willing to leave Israel are overwhelmingly non-observant Jews. These are not coincidences.
It is the Torah - and not committees or programs or speeches or shelichim - that instills in us the komamiyut that is the major component of being a Jew in contemporary times. And it is Torah study that will ensure the fulfillment of the blessing in Vayikra 26:5 viyeshavtem lavetach b’aretz’chem/ "and you will dwell safely in your land."

This is a weekly column contributed by Aloh Naaleh an organization devoted to motivating Jews to make Aliya.
Aloh Na'aleh
POB 4337, Jerusalem 91042
Tel: 972-2-566-1181 ext. 320 ~ Fax: 972-2-566-1186
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