Tag Archives: Tochecha

#TieBlog #Behukotai

16 May
Edvard Munch's "The Scream" evokes the emotions intended by the reading of the "Tochecha" (reproof) Leviticus 26: 14-45.

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” evokes the emotions intended by the reading of the “Tokheha” (reproof) Leviticus 26: 14-45.

Parashat Behukotai concludes the book of Leviticus. The portion begins with a promise of blessings for the Israelites if they follow God’s ways. This section is then followed by a lengthy and chilling series of curses known as the Tokheha (Reproof). The curses are spelled out in length in the hope that they will put fear into the hearts of those who cannot be persuaded to do what is right by any other means. As this portion is read in synagogue, it is customary for the reader to read through the Tokheha in an undertone, perhaps because its vision of disaster is so frightening–or perhaps in keeping with Leviticus’s commitment to the reality of words, to say something aloud is halfway to making it happen. (Rabbi Harold Kushner, Etz Hayim, p. 747). In my tie wardrobe, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” seems to fit the bill perfectly as an emotional reaction to this portion.