Bechukotai: Dignity of Man
How critical is it to understand your self-worth, and what are the consequences if you don't? Phrased in more biblical terms, in Bechukotai, why are the laws of erchin placed after mentioning the blessings and curses that occur depending on whether you follow the chukim or not?
Bechukotai is the ultimate free will trial. Indeed, it is all im - if. It is our choice how to act.
Erchin is announcing to know your precious self-worth. If you know who you are, it will in fact lead you to do the mitzvot and halt you from engaging in aveirot. Of course, the choice is still yours, but if you're in touch with your inherent sanctity and self-worth, the choice is easier.
HaRav Avigdor Nebenzal points out, based on the Zohar (3:29b), “All souls originate from under the Throne of Glory.” We are totally spiritual beings. The yetzer hara, however, who is not really "us," is on a 24-hour watch to "dethrone" us. One of the names of the yetzer hara is soneh ("hater" - Sukkah 52a). It abhors us and is on a constant mission to destroy us.
In addition to realizing our spiritual self-worth, having a high self-esteem is just as vital. One powerful quote from Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski ztz”l is, “Low self-esteem is a delusion, and it can cause people to have many maladjustments in life.” One who has a strong self-esteem realizes that he's up to the task of fulfilling mitzvot and feels good about it.
Within the spiritual realm, the Vilna Gaon (Esther 1:15) notes that at the time of death even the yetzer hara tells the rasha to repent but to no avail. It’s clear then that our relentless enemy “really” wants us to succeed in the challenge of life. If you knew your enemy wanted you to triumph in the end, why entertain his deviousness in the present?
Within the psychological realm, having a healthy self-image will drive you to choose right in the Bechukotai challenge. A healthy mind wants to serve the Creator and build a relationship with the Almighty Who offers so many opportunities in a blessed world.