When people hear about the G-d of the Bible placing conditions before His love towards people they call Him cruel or at least immature. The real G-d would not use conditions they state and by saying this they make an image of G-d and of what He should be thinking and doing. Yet the same people use conditions in their relationships. Love will have to come from both sides, if you do not feed a relationships it dies, and more is used in daily life. When I tried to let a non-Jewish aunt of mine know about my faith in Yeshua she did not want to hear it and our relationship had come to an end. And she was always so enlightened and liberal, open to anything except a god who would pose conditions to a relationship. When she ended her life she didn’t even warn me or say goodbye.
HASHEM is stating His conditions clearly for a mutual relationship between Him and Israel to work and flourish, in Parashat Bechukotai. Following His decrees and observing His commandments is the basis for that. A condition like that presupposes a relationship in which the parties are unequal in status and authority. By doing what G-d says we not only obey Him but we also admit that He is in authority over us. Difficult for all of us, because as willing as we are and as much faith as we have, do not touch our control. The basis of our thinking is that we are G-d, in the way we want to make our own decisions, in the fact that we love to talk about other people and judge them, measured by the amount of hatred in our hearts, and looking at our being attached to the good things of the earth.
People who do not like G-d putting conditions to His love for us should not forget that these conditions are not a fortiori but a posteriori, which is a difficult way to say that there is an unconditional love He has for us, from which stems the conditions he states in this Sidra. The unconditional love is that He cares enough to never forget about Israel, that He will send Messiah to make world peace, that He has spoken promises to Israel which He will fulfill no matter what. If we can speak about a relationship G-d is the first one to be in it.
So why does HASHEM use conditions, positive one and negative ones even to the point of threats? Allow me to give three main reasons:
1. Restoration of our bodies, souls and spirit. All G-d’s commandments are for our wellbeing. We need to step down from our desire to be like G-d and restore a healthy respect for Him and obedience to His Torah. Fun and pleasure are to be part of our lives, but whatever we do, think or decide, it should never be at the cost of our relationship with HASHEM and/or other people.
2. Tikun olam. Torah is G-d’s way to restore this world and prepare it for Olam haba, the world to come. The division in our hearts and in this world which is so against the unity and wholeheartedness which HASHEM asks from us – read Devarim 6:5, “You shall love HASHEM, your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources.” – can be healed when we bow down to HASHEM and His Torah start applying it in our personal lives and in our work, politics, art, and anything.
3. Preparing for our return to Gan Eden. All this leads to living with HASHEM again like Adam did with his wife. The ezer who is often against him and he against her will then turn into the soul mate who is equal in value in the relationship. Maturity stems from applying G-d’s conditions and it prepares not only for mature living in Olam haze, this world, but it prepares for eternity, as our Jewish prophet Daniel says: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life …” (12:2).
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehillat Beth Yeshua