This final part of Leviticus has always troubled me for its juxtaposition of beautifully poetic language on the subject of the most primitive of beliefs of Divine reward and punishment. In a modern world defined by the Holocaust and untold acts of senseless destruction and loss of life since then, it is hard to view the world in so simple of terms as “good people are rewarded and bad people are punished.”
But perhaps the problem lies not simply in the text of the Torah alone, but in the way we understand it as well. It never says here that our every righteous deed will surely be rewarded, or that every evil act will be instantly or inevitably punished. In this context, what the Torah teaches us in Behukotai is simply this. We are responsible for our actions – our lives and the world will be better or worse for our efforts. And while we may not receive in full measure the blessing or the curse that we or others might justly deserve, we will have earned it, and received it in some measure. And that, for the modern world, may be just enough.