Weekly Reading Insights: Behar-Bechukotai764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Behar-Bechukotai

To be read on 24 Iyar 5764 (May 15th ) Shabbat Mevarachim
Torah: Leviticus 25:1-27:34
Jeremiah 16:19-17:14 (rebukes, as in Behukotai)

Behar is the 9th Reading out of 10 in Leviticus and 32nd overall, and 50th out of 54 in overall length.
Bechukotai is the 10th Reading out of 10 in Levitucus and 33rd overal and 47th out of 54 in overall length.

Pirkei Avot: Chapter Five

Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2) begins with laws concerning the sabbatical and jubilee years. These include the laws concerning the redemption of fields and houses. These are followed by the laws enjoining us to help fellow Jews and forbidding us to charge interest. Behar concludes with the mitzvot regarding Jewish and non-Jewish servants.
Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34) opens with a description of the physical rewards that we reap for fulfilling
G-d's commandments. This is followed by an outline of the consequences resulting from disobeying G-d, and the eventual repentance and forgiveness that will come in the future. The last sections concern endowment valuations of people, animals, real estate, and crops to G-d (consecrating their monetary value to the sanctuary). With the conclusion of B'chukotai, we also complete the book of Vayikra (Leviticus)-and so upon the close of its reading in synagogue, we proclaim, "Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek!"

FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALA (K:32-33-64/Behar-Bechukotai)

From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:32-33-64/Behar-Bechukotai)

Now the Zohar analyses what it is that causes people like Ham, Ishmael and Esau to remove themselves from the realm of the Holy into the world of external ego gratification and spiritual darkness.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:32-33-64/Behar-Bechukotai)

We have already explained that the spiritual ascent of all worlds is the essence of the Shabbat. Each world rises to a higher level than it is on during the rest of the week.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:32-33-64/Behar-Bechukotai)

Rashi explains that one must not sell one's land in the Land of Israel unless one has absolutely no other choice. If one sells for, say, speculative reasons, one may find oneself impoverished.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V32-33-64/Behar-Bechukotai)

"I will remember My covenant with Jacob." (26:42)

Why does the Torah suddenly bring up the merit of our Patriarchs in the middle of a lengthy reproof? Because there is no greater reprimand than to point out that we are not behaving as befits the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

(Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:32-33-64/Behar-Bechukotai)

In a double Torah-reading, the two portions are joined at the 4th aliyah (of seven divisions of the complete weekly reading) when verses are read from the end of the first parasha and beginning of the second without interrupting in-between. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that this is also how we may view them, taking a message from each individually - and also from their combined meaning.

First, Behar, literally "On the mountain", tells us to transcend the travail of the world. Even though we are "the lesser of the nations" (Deut. 7:7), the Torah elevates us, so we should not let the world affect us.

Parshat Bechukotai opens with the verse "If you will follow my laws" (Lev. 26:3) and refers to all Torah commandments. Yet why does the Torah use the specific word "chukim" for laws, as opposed to a more general word, such as "mitzvah"? "Chukim" refers to commandments that do not have an apparent reason or logic behind them, like keeping kosher, or not wearing wool and linen together. Just as we observe these commandments only because G-d commanded them and without comprehending their reason, so too we must observe all of the commandments, even the ones that are apparently rational, solely because G-d commanded them.

Now it would appear that these two ideas are contradictory. Behar is a state of a strong self, albeit in holiness, while Bechukotai is a state of self-negation. Nevertheless, we require both realities. We need a strong self-image to counter the world. We must impose our reality on the world, and not let the world impose its reality on us.

Secondly, we cannot deceive ourselves by believing that we have to understand each detail in Judaism before living according to Torah. Rather we should fulfill the commandments in a way of "do them first and then you will come to understand". Through perseverance, we will eventually attain the level where the aspect of Behar is done in a way of Bechukotai, surmounting the world's challenges because G-d commanded it; and Bechukotai is performed in the way of Behar, performing all of G-d's commandments with strength and confidence.

"If you follow my laws....I will give you rain at their correct time" (Lev. 26:3-4). Why does the Torah emphasize these physical rewards? Shouldn't it focus on spiritual rewards in the afterlife? Rebbe Michal of Zlotshuv is even more astounded. Why does G-d promise us anything at all? Are we not supposed to serve the Almighty without expecting to receive any reward (see Avot 1:3)? If this is the case, it does not matter what is promised!

Any promise confuses the situation. Maybe it would have been better not to mention any reward at all, and thereby eliminate the need for warnings not to serve with the intention of receiving a reward. Blessings will come on their own to those who deserve them. Rebbe Michal answered that any person who serves G-d is most certainly blessed for his efforts with all manner of physical and spiritual blessings (as all the commandments are conduits for an effluence of blessings). Nevertheless, all of this service has to be done honestly for G-d's sake, with great love and esteem, awe and modesty, without even a hint of "serving the Master for the sake of receiving a reward".

If someone has in mind any thought of gain, he or she will not receive any reward, because he or she is really serving for personal benefit. This is the meaning of the words: "If you will follow My laws and keep My commandments". If you serve G-d properly, as a result there will be for you a sign, an indicator, that the rains will fall at the proper time and the earth will bear fruit. You will see that the blessings come as a result of doing the commandments properly, only for the sake of Heaven. As young woman in one of my classes said, "it is important to know that G-d is listening".

Lag B'Omer, which fell this week, is the day celebrating the end of the plague that wiped out Rabbi Akiva's students, who were punished for their lack of love and respect for their fellow Jews. Rebbe Shmuel Shmelke of Nicholsberg explained how to love a person who has done you harm. All of us are one integrated entity, because we are all small parts of the original soul of Adam, the first man.

We can be compared to parts of one whole body. This one is part of the hand, and this one the nose, etc. Sometimes a person unintentionally hurts himself, like dropping something on his foot or walking into a pole. If we would then take a stick and vengefully hit the offending part of the body, we would really be in pain. So it is with when someone else harms you. It is only because of a lack of understanding of how we are all connected. If we would pay him or her back in kind, we are only doing ourselves more damage. Rather, we should remind ourselves that we deserved what we got, and the Almighty has many messengers.

If this thought does not suffice, we should try meditating on the idea that the other person's soul, literally a portion of G-d from Above, has fallen so low into such unpleasant things, and we should have mercy on His holy spark.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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