Monday, May 18, 2009

Torah Portion Behar - 22 IYYAR 5769

Parsha Behar - Bechukotai (double portion) Part 1

Lev 25:1 - 27:34 Jer 16:19 - 17:14 Luke 21 - 24

Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, "When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a Sabbath to the LORD." (Leviticus 25:2)

Behar is the next to last portion in the book of Leviticus and teaches about the seven-year cycle that concludes with a Sabbath or Shamittah year. The Torah instructs the children of Israel to let the land rest by desisting from agriculture for one out of every seven years. Farmers in the land of Israel were to let the land rest. They were not to plow, sow, prune, reap or trim during the seventh year. They could pick and eat the crops that grew of their own accord, but that was to be the limit of their agricultural production.

The Torah seeks to teach us to place our trust in God rather than our own efforts. And the land's rest in the seventh year shows us that the primary force in the universe is God, not the law of nature. It teaches us that true life comes when we stop striving for material gain in favor of spiritual growth.

The anticipation of the coming sabbatical year transforms the other six years. The sabbatical year teaches that even our normal occupations and vocations should be working toward the goal of the kingdom. Just as God said that this is the "land that I give you", the Shemittah or Sabbath year is a reminder that it is God who provides all and that even the land that we work with our own sweat and travail, as well as our other occupations are a gift from God and ultimately belong to Him.

Shabbat Shalom

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