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G-d is personally involved in the fertility of the Jewish people, instead of leaving the matter to the laws of nature.

Three Keys

Three Keys

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Three Keys
G-d is personally involved in the fertility of the Jewish people, instead of leaving the matter to the laws of nature.

"And I will turn to you, etc." (Lev. 26:9)

This phrase is to be understood as similar to what we learn in [the Talmud in] Ta'anit 2 that G‑d holds three keys; one of them is the key to birth, i.e. procreation. This is why G‑d had to say: "I will turn towards you" before mentioning that He would make the Jewish people fruitful. The word ‘upaniti/I will turn' is indicative of G‑d personally involving Himself in the fertility of the Jewish people instead of leaving the matter in the hands of the agent He has appointed as part of the laws of nature to deal with such tasks.

...G‑d granting us access to all the three keys in His possession...

It is also possible that when the verse continues with "I will multiply you" that this refers to a second key G‑d holds in His hands, i.e. the key to livelihood. Adequate food assists physical growth. This may be why Torat Kohanim [midrashic explanation of Lev.] understands this blessing as contributing to the physical size of the Israelites. Moreover, we are taught in [the Talmud in] Sanhedrin (90) that the words ‘I will fulfill my covenant with you’ at the end of our verse refer to the covenant with the dead that when the time comes their bodies will be resurrected. The world ‘I will fulfill/hakimoti' then refers to the third key G‑d holds in His hands, the key to life and death. The word "and I will turn to you/upaniti' may thus be understood as G‑d granting us access to all the three keys in His possession.

Another aspect of this verse is related to the statement (Shabbat 156) that Israel is not subject to the restrictions inherent in the term mazal, such as referred to by Isaiah (41:2) when he described Abraham as having thought his fate was determined by the constellation of Jupiter. The word upaniti simply means that G‑d will turn aside the horoscopic influences and apply a different set of rules to the dispensation of the blessings involving the three areas to which G‑d personally holds the keys. Although, according to Mo’ed Katan, (28) the three domains over mazal, G‑d will make an exception to this rule by "moving the relevant constellation (mafneh) aside" to enable Israel to overcome negative influences.

[Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of "Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar" by Eliyahu Munk.]

Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) ibn Attar (Sale, Western Morocco, 1696–Jerusalem, 1743) is best known as the author of one of the most important and popular commentaries on the Torah: the Ohr HaChaim, printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was on his way to the Holy Land. He established a major yeshivah in Israel, after moving there from Morocco. Chassidic tradition is that the main reason the Baal Shem Tov twice tried so hard (and failed) to get to the Holy Land was that he said if he could join the Ohr HaChaim there, together they could bring Moshiach. Rabbi Chaim acquired a reputation as a miracle worker, hence his title “the holy,” although some apply this title only to his Torah commentary. He is buried outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Eliyahu Munk, the translator, was born in Frankfurt, and emigrated to England as a young man, later moving to Toronto. After retiring from education and moving to Israel in 1978, he began an extraordinary second career as a translator, publishing English versions of the Torah commentaries of Rabbeinu Bechayei, Akeidat Yitzchak, Shelah, Alshich and Ohr Hachaim.
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