Weekly Reading Insights:  Behar/Bechukotai 5767

Overview of the Weekly Reading, Behar/Bechukotai

To be read on the Shabbat of 24 Iyar 5767 /May 12

Shabbat Mevarchim

Torah: Leviticus 25:1-27:34
Jeremiah 16:19-17:14 (rebukes, as in Behukotai)
Pirkei Avot: Chapter Five

Behar, 9th out of 10 in Leviticus, 32nd overall, 50th out of 54 in overall length.

Bechukotai, 10th out of 10 in Leviticus, 33rd overall, 47th out of 54 in overalll length.

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:32-3367/Behar-Bechukotai)

From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:32-3367/Behar-Bechukotai)

When the Land rests, the servants have to rest from agricultural labor. This is the reason that in the seventh year the servants are "released free, for no payment". The additional words "no payment" signify that the servant owes nothing more to his master.

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

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed

Now, on the Festivals, the worlds do not ascend to the extent that they do on the Shabbat. Therefore, types of work associated with the preparation of food [namely, cooking] are permitted, and on the intermediate days of the festivals [chol ha-moed] any type of work that would result in loss if not done is also permitted, as we will explain.

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

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From Rebbeinu Bachya (S:32-3367/Behar-Bechukotai)

The concept of the People of Israel is known as "zot", as we know from the verse the People of Israel emanated from
G-d" (Psalms 118:23, as well as from Gen. 49:28), and the verse would contain a promise that wherever the physical People of Israel would be exiled to, an element of the Divine Presence ( Shechina) would remain with them.

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

FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:32-3367/Behar-Bechukotai)

"If you walk in My statutes." (26:3)

The Baal Shem Tov explains: If a person gets to a point where his spiritual service become like a "statute," an unbending decree, and he is not able to move - then he must walk; he cannot stay in that place. He must invigorate, renew, add to his spiritual service until he is able to go forth to a higher level.

(Keter Shem Tov) (from L'Chaim #819)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:32-3367/Behar-Bechukotai)

"I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and my covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember." (Lev. 26:42)

The Patriarchs are not mentioned in chronological order in this verse, but rather in the order of the attributes and eras they personified. After the Torah was given, the Jews entered the era of Torah, personified by Jacob who was the pillar of Torah. When the Holy Temple was built they entered the era of "service" and Isaac embodied the attribute of service. And these last generations of the era before Mashiach are connected to Abraham who was the epitome of loving-kindness. The Baal Shem Tov explained that now, in the final era before Mashiach, emphasis must be placed on deeds of kindness to hasten the redemption.

(Rabbi Ben Tzion of Bobov) (from L'Chaim #920)

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here)

This week's Torah portion contains three different sections: Shmita and Yovel (Sabbatical and Jubilee years for the land of Israel), freeing slaves during the Jubilee year, and the prohibition of taking interest on a loan from a Jew. The Izbitzer Rebbe connects these three subjects to the mystical concept of "ASHaN", Hebrew for "smoke", from the Kabbalistic text Sefer Yetzira. The word "ashan" is used to describe how Mt. Sinai was full of smoke (Lev. 19:18) and is also an acronym for three words: "olam" (meaning "world" or "space"), "shana" (meaning "time"), and "nefesh" ("soul" or "spirit"). Just as a soul is a divine creation, so too are space and time. Everything in the Creation has these three components. Seeing the world from this perspective is a way of sensitizing ourselves to how G-d interacts with the world.

He continues that Behar is all about faith in G-d and that G-d is warning us against relying on any apparently trustworthy worldly factors, and count on Him alone. The above-mentioned three Torah topics correspond to the three mystical concepts:

Buying property is connected to the spiritual state of "world" or "space"; the commandments of Shmita teaches us not to put our faith in land because, as we learn from the laws of the sabbatical year, possession is not necessarily permanent or fruitful - whenever we rely on real estate, we risk disappointment.

Taking interest is connected to the spiritual state of "time", because interest accumulates over time. For this reason the Torah forbids taking interest to remind us not to put our faith in time.

We also may put our faith in people, which relates to the concept of "souls". Servants are the ultimate example of a human being on whom we come to rely, and for this reason we are commanded to free all of our slaves in the Jubilee year to remind us not to rely on people either.

In connection with the portion's emphasis on faith in G-d, the commentaries explain that the Jewish people may worry how they will survive if they can not farm during the Sabbatical year and will have to wait until well into the 8th year before there will be any crops (Lev. 25:20-21): "What will we eat in the seventh year?" The Torah answers for G-d, "I will command My blessings in the 6th year, and it will yield a crop enough for three years!"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that the verses about the 6th and 7th years are a hint to the era before Mashiach's arrival during the end of the 6th millennium, which is now. The question is how we will succeed spiritually to bring the redemption when we are such a clueless and orphaned generation? G-d answers, "I will command my blessings in the 6th year." If we fully invest ourselves in the work of the "6th year" - the physical and spiritual efforts required of us during the last moments of exile - G-d will bless our plantings from the 6th year that they will last us for 3 years: from the arrival of Mashiach through the Revival of the Dead, and to the time of the full redemption, the 7th millennium that will be solely Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom Shaul

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