Parashiot Behar-Bechukotai!

Dear Friends;

I hope that you’ll enjoy the following Parashiot summaries, followed by a Dvar Torah;

” Parashiot in a Nutshell ”

On the Mount Sinai, G-d tells Moshe the laws of the sabbatical year: every seventh year, all work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast.

Seven sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year — the jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all servants are set free, and all ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners. Additional laws governing the sale of lands and the prohibitions against fraud and lending money for interest are also given.

G-d promises that if the people of Israel will keep His commandments, they will enjoy material prosperity and dwell secure in their homeland. But He also delivers a harsh “rebuke” warning of the exile, persecution and other evils that will befall them if they abandon their covenant with Him. Nevertheless, “Even when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor will I ever destroy them and to break My covenant with them; for I am the L-rd their G-d.”

The Parshah concludes with the rules on how to calculate the value of different types of pledges made to G-d.

” Dvar Torah ”

Nearly all the mitzvot given in the Torah are the laws either concerning the relationship between man and G-d, or the relationship between man and man. However, in this week’s Parashat Behar, the Torah talks about a mitzvah concerning the relationship between man and the land!

In Parashat Behar, the main topic of discussion is about the laws of “Shemitah”- the Sabbatical year for the land of Israel. All agricultural work in the Land of Israel must come to stop during every seventh year cycle. The laws of Shemitah requires the land to be at complete rest for the entire seventh year. It means that on the seventh year there is no sowing seeds, no plowing, no harvesting, no adding fertilizers and no watering the crops either!
Wow, this is a very difficult mitzvah to observe, especially in the old days, when the majority of the people were either farmers or shepherds. Not only you were unable to plant in order to feed your own family, but cutting off your livelihood completely for an entire year, requires an incredible amount of faith, especially when the entire nation plans to do the same thing at the same time.

But Hashem gives his assurance for those who keep the laws of Shemitah. The Torah says: ” The land will give its fruit [in the preceding years] and you will be satisfied; you will dwell securely upon it”.
After such a powerful promise, the Torah then brings up a hypothetical question to be raised by the people, namely, “What will we eat in the seventh year — behold! we will not sow and we will not gather our crops!”. And then Hashem reassures the people by saying: ” I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year and [the land] will yield a crop sufficient for three-year period “. This means that the sixth year will give sufficient crops until the end of the eight year!

But the Chachamim are bothered by the “double” assurances! First the Torah tells us that ” The land will give its fruit and you will be satisfied”! After such a guarantee, why should there be a doubt in people’s mind to ask ” What will we eat in the seventh year?” Why should Hashem promise again that the sixth year will produce three times a regular year?? Wasn’t the first assurance good enough??

The Chachamim give the following explanation. First of all, the reason that Hashem gave us the Mitzvah of “Shemitah” is not because the land needs to rest. Land does not need to rest! This is apparent from observing the lands outside Israel. Do you think that the vineyards in California or France produce less quality grapes than the ones in Israel? Although the non-Jews work their fields year after year after year, without a brake, they still produce good quality crops and fruits! Accordingly, the Chachamim say that the whole purpose of Shemitah is for the Jews to take a break from their routine lives and to realize that it’s not because of their hard labor that the land produces so much crops, but rather, it’s because of G-d’s will that they have accomplished to gather all these crops. Hashem can still feed them without them needing to work, if He wants to! The seventh year is the time to take our minds out of the material world and engage ourselves in spirituality. It’s the time to remind ourselves that our livelihood comes from Hashem’s blessings, and not from the strength of our arms, nor from the intelligence of our brain.

Accordingly, the Chachamim conclude that the mitzvah of Shemitah is a test! It’s a test of faith! Those who are true believers are satisfied with Hashem’s first assurance; that ” the land will produce its fruit and you will be satisfied “. They fully trust in Hashem that he will provide, which means that they will be satisfied with whatever Hashem provides for them! But those who lack in faith, they want to see a physical miracle. That’s why Hashem gives a second assurance for those people, that ” in the sixth year you will yield three times the regular crops! Since these people lack in faith, Hashem doesn’t want them to enter the seventh year being worried! He shows them the miracle before hand!  Hashem can tolerate people who lack in faith, since even these people are blessed to get crops for the seventh year. But G-d forbid, for those non-believers who don’t keep the Shemitah laws at all, the Torah says that they will be eventually be thrown out of their lands!

Although, the laws of Shemitah does not apply to many of us today, since we either don’t live in the land of Israel or we are not farmers, but the Chachamim use the same reasoning to explain the concept of Shabbat to us. Accordingly, they also say that the reason that Hashem has given us Shabbat is not because we need a day of rest every week, but rather, it’s a day that we should stop working and come to realize that whatever we’ve achieved in the previous week is not because of our hard work and our intelligence, but it’s because of Hashem’s generous blessings, and its He who provides our livelihood! It’s a day we should spend with the Almighty, go to Shul, pray and be thankful to him!

Yes my friends, all of our sustenance comes from the heaven above. No matter how smart we are or how mighty is our physical strength, our livelihood is fully dependent on G-d’s will! And to realize that, we need to take sometime off our routine lives and spend it with the Almighty. Making a living is a test of faith. Those of us who are true believers, we will eat and we will be satisfied with whatever Hashem has provided for us. But those of us who lack in faith, need to constantly run and worry about our future! In the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot we read the book of “Pirkei Avot”. In it, it says “Who is rich? Rich is the one who is happy with his share”. So one of the greatest blessings is to be satisfied with what you have.

You know, the best thing about having faith is that it gives you a peace of mind! So have faith and believe in the Almighty. He’ll stand up to his task if you show him your faith!

Shabbat Shalom & Regards;