Weekly Portion: Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2)

The Torah portion begins with the laws of Shemitah, the Sabbatical year, where the Jewish people are commanded to not plant their fields or tend to them in the seventh year. Every 50th year is theYovel, the Jubilee year, where agricultural activity is also proscribed.

These two commandments fall into one of the seven categories of evidence that God gave the Torah. If the idea is to give the land a rest, then the logical plan would be to not plant one-seventh of the land each year. To command an agrarian society to completely stop cultivating all farm lands every 7th year, one has to be either God or ameshugenah (crazy). No sane group of editors would include such an “insane” commandment in a set of laws for the Jewish people; only God could command it and ensure the survival of the Jewish people for following it.

Also included in this portion: redeeming land which was sold, to strengthen your fellow Jew when his economic means are faltering, not to lend to your fellow Jew with interest, the laws of indentured servants. The portion ends with the admonition to not make idols, to observe the Shabbat and to revere the Sanctuary.

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

“And you shall blow the shofar on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement shall you sound the shofar throughout all your land. And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family” (Leviticus 25:9,10).

What lesson for life can we learn from this verse?

The Sefer HaChinuch teaches a lesson regarding coping with suffering from the commandment to blow the shofar in the fiftieth year, the yovel (Jubilee year). The reason for this is that on the yovel the servants were set free. When a master had a servant for a long period of time, it was difficult for him to lose the helping hand. The shofar was blown for the master to realize that he was not the only one to free his servant. Rather, the same was happening to everyone else who had servants. The knowledge that others are also suffering in the same way makes it much easier to accept hardships.

There are many difficulties in life that people subjectively make worse for themselves because they feel that they are the only ones who are suffering. The more you realize that each person has his own life-problems, the easier you will find it to cope in a positive way with your own. While not everyone will have the same problems as you do, everyone does have hardships and tests. Gain greater awareness of the suffering of other people and you will be able to put your own suffering in a perspective that will decrease the pain.


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