Living Purposefully

This Dvar Torah was written by Anita Kurzer Givner, CAJE’s outgoing chair of the Leo Martin March of the Living Committee and delivered to the Committee this week. We thank her for her outstanding service to our community!

Anita Kurzer Givner (left)

CAJE is dedicating this week’s Dvar Torah to Leigh and Morrie Siegel,

a past Chair of the March of the Living, whose third granddaughter,

Margot Siegel Taich, was just born in Boston.

Parsha Bechukotai is the tenth and final section of the Book of Vayikra / Leviticus, which is the third book of the Torah.


In Hebrew, Bechukotai means “In My Statutes” - which specifically refers to those laws we do not understand, such as eating kosher and the laws of the red heifer.


The parsha is dominated by the passage in which G-d speaks of the blessings G-d will bestow upon the Jewish people if they are faithful in following the Torah, i.e., that the Jewish people will be prosperous and rewarded with material wealth and well-being and the land will flourish.


The parsha also explains the opposite could also occur. By neglecting G-d’s laws (Heaven forbid), we forfeit G-d’s blessings and protection and are left to chance and resulting curses. The curses are detailed intensely and vividly and include rebukes, persecution, destruction and other evils falling on the Jewish people.


In this parsha, the Hebrew word “keri” (happenstance) is repeated 7 times and does not appear anywhere else in the Torah. With such a significant occurrence, this word must have special meaning.


In particular, the parsha reads as follows: “If we behave towards God with keri, then God will behave towards us with keri.”


The meaning of this passage according to the Rambam (a.k.a. Maimonides) is: “If you believe that what happens to you is simply a matter of chance, then says G-d, I will leave you to chance.”


The choice is up to us.


We can see life as a calling, a summons, a vocation, a destiny or we can see it as a random happening with no ultimate meaning.


By neglecting G-d’s laws, we (Heaven forbid) forfeit G-d’s blessings and protection and are left to chance.

Former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Jonathan Sacks has written:


“If you believe you are here for a purpose, your life will take on the directedness of that purpose. Your energies will be focused. A sense of mission will give you strength and you will do remarkable things.”

In the case of the Jewish people, I believe that some of our purpose is to show G-d’s Divine Presence in our world by the country we create, the way we live, the behavior we evidence, the knowledge we share and the values we live by.


The people who change the world are those who believe that life has purpose, a direction, a destiny.


To achieve this most effectively and to have the greatest impact, we as a Jewish people need to be united. And our parsha echoes this, noting that with unity, our power grows exponentially.


When we the Jewish people and the community come together and behave purposefully, guided by Torah and mitzvot, G-d will shower us with blessings and miracles.


We should merit such revealed blessings and miracles in our time, including the immediate return of the hostages, protection and success of our IDF soldiers, lasting peace and security in Israel and among all Jews everywhere.


It has been my honor to have chaired the March of the Living committee for the past three years.

Through all that time, our mission has been true:


The Miami March of the Living purpose is to educate the next generation of leaders to strengthen their Jewish identity, remember the Holocaust, act as witnesses, and respond to intolerance and antisemitism, ensuring a strong Jewish future in America, Israel, and around the world.

Generations of our March students have been impacted and charged with this purpose to create a better world and bring blessings to the Jewish people.


Thank you to Carly Orshan, Stephanie Goodman and Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar of CAJE for all your wonderful work!


I know that Marian Kruss as our next Leo Martin March of the Living Chair will continue the mission and vision of the March and elevate it even further! Thank you again for the opportunity to serve this great community and this vital, transformational program.

Shabbat Shalom