Two of the seemingly least-related concepts in the Bible are found side by side in this week’s Torah reading.

First comes the tochachah (rebuke): 32 verses of pure fear, which detail the punishments and pain that await the Jewish people if we deviate from G‑d’s way. Every time we read the tochachah, I am struck anew with the sheer inventiveness of the threats described, and the range and scope of the consequences. The only thing more terrifying than reading the text is reflecting on the fact that all this suffering and more has actually happened to the Jews over time.32 verses of pure fear

Right after the tochachah is the section dealing with erchin (valuations). Were a Jew to pledge the value of another person as a donation to the Temple, there is a sliding scale, almost like an actuarial table, by which that value could be calculated. It’s a relatively obscure topic, and seems somewhat lacking in human interest.

But perhaps the Torah is teaching us a crucial lesson by placing these seemingly disparate topics in such close proximity.

One could imagine that after experiencing a tochachah, a period of pain and suffering, the weary survivor could be left wondering about his value in the greater scheme of life, and whether G‑d really cares about him at all.

Many The Torah is teaching us a crucial lessoncrime victims or survivors of natural disasters find it difficult to restart their lives, because their entire sense of self-worth, as well as their sense of place in the world, has been subsumed in the suffering they have just been through. They find it difficult to go on, because they are no longer confident in who they are.

By placing the section of erchin directly after the tochachah, the Torah is reassuring us that no matter what we have been through, we still count. Every person has an innate value, every person is intrinsically valuable, and G‑d cherishes and appreciates us all.