God tells Moses to instruct the people in the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, as well as how to relate to those in the community who become impoverished.
God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and told him to tell the Israelites the following:
When you enter the land that I give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath of the Lord. Six years you may sow your field and prune your vineyard and gather the crops. But in the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, a Sabbath of the Lord. You shall not sow your field, nor prune your vineyard; it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat the Sabbath produce of the land.
In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, it shall be the Day of Atonement. You shall sound the shofar horn loud throughout the land.
God enumerates the rewards for keeping the commandments and the punishments for violating them; the laws of tithes are then listed.
God says: If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant rain so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees their fruit. I will grant peace and you shall sleep with no fear. I will cause vicious beasts to withdraw from the land and your enemies will fall before you.
I, your God, will look with favor upon you and make you fertile and multiply. I will establish My covenant with you. I will place My Sanctuary among you and My Spirit will not reject you. I will walk among you, I will be God to you, and you will be a people to Me. I, who broke the bonds of your slavery and taught you to walk upright.
FROM THE PARSHA
In modern day society, wealth is something we work hard for. In the Bible, however, a person's standing in life was left up to God's will. How do we grapple with this today, when it comes to spending our hard-earned money? MORE>
from Torah Topics for Today
from Orthodox Union
from American Jewish University
from Women of Reform Judaism
* TORAH * LESSONS
OF THE WEEK
In 1751, the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered a special bell be cast, commemorating the 50th anniversary of William Penn's 'Charter of Privileges.' The Speaker of the Assembly was entrusted with finding an appropriate inscription for what later became famous as the Liberty Bell. The best expression of freedom and equality that the speaker could find was the Biblical verse describing the Jubilee year:
Unlike Jewish servants, who are automatically freed after six years, non-Jews who sell themselves into slavery are never released from servitude. "You shall have them serve you forever" (Lev. 25:46). Unless the slave has been mistreated, he may not be set free.
Like the Garden of Eden
Ask any farmer — agricultural labor is hard work. Plowing, planting, weeding, pruning, harvesting, and so on. That, however, is not how it was supposed to be. The world was originally designed to be like life in the Garden of Eden. Agricultural labor was only cursed after Adam's sin - "By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread" (Gen. 3:19).
"When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land must be given a rest period, a sabbath to God. For six years you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and harvest your crops. But the seventh year is a sabbath of sabbaths for the land." (Lev. 25:1-4)
The Objection of the Ridbaz
One of the most vociferous opponents to the hetter mechirah — the temporary sale of land in Israel to a non-Jew to avoid the restrictions of the sabbatical year — was the Ridbaz, Rabbi Ya'akov David Willowski (1845-1913). More interesting than his Halachic objections to the sale, however, is the philosophical argument that the rabbi of Safed raised.
Five Double Letters
Of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, five are called 'double letters,' as they take on a different form when appearing at the end of a word. The five letters are Mem, Nun, Tzadi, Pay, and Chaf. When placed together as one word, they spell M-N-Tz-P-Ch.
According to Talmudic tradition (Shabbat 104a), the dual form of these letters goes back to the prophets. The abbreviation M-N-Tz-P-Ch can be read as Min Tzophim — 'from the prophets.'
The parashah describes terrible calamities — disease, war, famine, and exile — that result when Israel abandons the Torah. According to Talmudic tradition, the primary reason for punishment is one particular offense: corruption in the judicial arena.
"As a punishment for [unnecessary] delay in executing judgment, perversion of judgment, and neglect of Torah — sword and plunder increase, pestilence and famine ensue. People eat, yet remain hungry; and they eat their bread by weight." (Shabbat 33a)
The Torah warns us that if we fail to listen to God and keep His mitzvot, we will be punished with famine, war, and ultimately, exile.
"I will scatter you among the nations, and keep the sword drawn against you. Your land will remain desolate, and your cities in ruins." (Lev. 26:33)
Divine punishment is real.
The haftarah selection is from Jeremiah 16:19-17:14.
In the haftarah for Parashat B’hukotai (also read when B’har and B’hukotai are combined as a double parashah) Jeremiah prophesizes on several themes in a relatively short span. Many scholars, responding to the discontinuous nature of this section of Jeremiah, suggest that it might be a collection of sayings culled from Jeremiah’s notes by his assistant Baruch.