“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” – Leviticus 26:3-4
What does it mean to be a whole and healthy person? In mainstream culture, being “healthy” means eating well, exercising, and often simply avoiding sickness. But God approaches health holistically. Honoring our bodies is one aspect of health–but in His Kingdom, thriving starts on the inside and flows outward. Let’s take a look at this week’s Torah Portion to discover a practical yet powerful way to keep our hearts healthy.
In Leviticus 26, the Lord gives His people an important commandment: “walk in my statutes.” But what does walking in His statues have to do with our health? Commenting upon the opening words of this week’s Torah Portion, Rashi writes:
If you follow [walk in] my statutes (Leviticus 26:2) What is the meaning of “If you follow my statutes”? It means that you must toil in the study of Torah [for the word for “follow” here, telekhu, literally means “walk,” which is a strenuous activity (Gur Aryeh)].
God’s intention in giving us His Word isn’t just to keep us in line by promoting good behavior. He gives us the scriptures for a purpose: so we can know Him and live out our destiny of becoming like Him. There is no greater way to live than running toward the purpose He designed for us before creation!
Of course, pursuing our purpose means putting in some work. Rashi’s commentary reminds us that to follow God’s commandments, we must actually walk. Walking takes effort. Think about going on a brisk walk. Walking increases your heart rate, gets you a little out of breath, strengthens your muscles, and even encourages you to thank God for the beauty you see around you.
In the same way, following God’s statutes takes effort. As Rashi writes, it may even feel like toiling. But the beautiful part is, in God’s Kingdom, we reap what we sow. Serious study of scripture is the spiritual equivalent of exercising our bodies. We are called to work out our spirit through in-depth study of God’s Word! So, what are some of the specific effects of spending intentional time in the scriptures?
The importance of setting a regular time for studying God’s Word is not only essential for our spiritual growth and well-being in this world. It also affects our share in the World to Come. In fact, when we stand before God on the day of our judgment, one question we will asked is “did you fix regular times for Torah study?” (b. Shabbat 31a).
If this language feels outdated or irrelevant, let’s visit the New Testament and see what the writer of Hebrews has to say about the power of the Word. In Hebrews 4:12, we read “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
If we are to become the people God created us to be, we need to meet Him in His Word. It’s in the scriptures God speaks to us about who He is and shapes who we are. As we develop intimacy with the God who created us, we come nearer and nearer to the destiny we were designed for. Real health starts with a healthy heart–knowing who God is and finding our identity in Him.