Shabbat Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and

In this last little oomph of Vayikra/Leviticus before we start wandering in the wilderness of Bamidbar/Numbers, we have the ever-popular blessings and curses. This one even has it’s own name – tochechah. It’s such a laugh riot to read (10 versus of blessings and 28 versus of curses) that the Rabbi’s had a hard time finding people to read it out loud in Temple. So rather than break the curses across 7 aliyot, that section portion is read as one long chunk by the one chump… I mean volunteer… just to get it out of the way. If someone WANTED to read this portion, not only did they get to show off their mad Hebrew skilz, they probably also got complimentary post-traumatic stress therapy afterward.

After that, somewhat inexplicably, the portion and the book of Leviticus ends with a description of valuable parting gifts (“Tell them what they’ve won, Don!”). There are 3 types of gifts: The first is a promise of a sum of money – Torah spells it out as relative to the worth of a person. For example, a 60 year old man is 15 shekels but a 60 year old woman is 10 shekels.

The second type of gift is animals or property. Both would be sold and the proceeds would go toward the maintenance of the Temple itself. The “value” of this gift was considered to be the actual value plus 1/5. Such a deal!

The last type of gift was something totally consecrated to God. No value statement was given. It was what it was.

So, limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring a “gifted” food. Extra points (oh sure, like we keep track!) if the food represents one of those 3 types of gifts as well.

Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.