Weekly Reading Insights: Behar 5765

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Behar

To be read on 12 Iyar 5765 (May 21)

Torah:Leviticus 25:1-26:2 ; Haftorah: Jeremiah 32:6-27 (redemption of hereditary land by relatives, as in 25:25).
Pirkei Avot
Chapter 3

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

Behar begins with laws concerning the sabbatical and jubilee years. These include redemption of fields and houses. Next is the law to help fellow Jews and forbidding charging interest to them. Behar ends with laws regarding Jewish and gentile slaves.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:32-65/Behar)

He should always connect the events in his life with their spiritual source, not merely with their immediate cause. He should cleave with his heart to the source of all faith. When a person is at one with his Master, recognizing that everything that occurs in his life is as a result of divine providence, then his heart will be at ease within him. When his spirit is calm as a result of this knowledge, nothing can harm him, because he sees everything that occurs in his life as a lesson and guide for spiritual growth.

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

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:32-65/Behar)

TOur task is to harness the material aspects of this world (including the mental and emotional energies, etc., allied with the material world) for divine purposes, i.e. to infuse divine consciousness into this world. This we accomplish primarily through prayer, the ascent of consciousness into divine consciousness, and "good deeds", whether the performance of actual, formal mitzvot, or of general deeds that serve to increase divine consciousness in the world.

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

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From "The Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya". (S:32-65/Behar)

All the severe penalties connected with failure to observe the legislation of sabbatical year and Jubilee, especially the fact that non-observance is the cause of our losing our homeland and going into exile, is all to give us an inkling of a much grander concept G-d has in mind for the existence of the physical universe and the message that an imperfect terrestrial universe is eventually to metamorphose into a perfect terrestrial universe.

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


"When you come into the land that I give you." (25:2)
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov once commented that it wasn't until he had actually visited the Land of Israel that he understood why the Torah uses the present tense when referring to the Holy Land, e.g., "that I give you": When a Jew merits to live in Israel, his gratitude to G-d is fresh and new each day, as if the land had just been given to him.

"For strangers and sojourners are you with Me." (25:23)
The more a person considers himself only a sojourner and a temporary resident of this world, the closer he is to G-d. And, unfortunately, the opposite is also true...
(Rabbi Boruch of Mezhibozh)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"After he is sold he must be redeemed; one of his brothers should redeem him...." (Lev. 25:48)

This hints to Mashiach, who is from the "number one" tribe of Yehudah. By referring to Mashiach as our "brother," the verse teaches us that he is not a an angel, but a person born to a father and mother, as we all are. The same happened when we were redeemed the first time. We were taken out by a person -- Moshe Rabbeinu -- not a angel.

Rabbeinu Bachaye

"...Or his uncle or his cousin should redeem him...." (Lev. 25:49)

This situation symbolizes exile; it is as if we are the poor person who has been sold to the non-Jewish nations. Who will obtain our release? It will be done by Mashiach. This is hinted in the way the Torah writes the word for "his cousin" - "ben-dodo." Since it is written with only one letter "vav," instead of the usual two, "ben-dodo" has the same letters as "ben-David" -- Mashiach ben David!

Baal HaTurim. Daas Z'keinim

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:32-65/Behar)

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 Izbitza Rebbe connects these three subjects to the mystical concept of "ASHaN" from the Kabbalistic book, Sefer Yetzira. The word ASHaN means smoke and, in this case, describes how Mt. Sinai was full of smoke (19/18).

It is also an acronym of three words: olam-world or space, shana-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 that just a interest is forbidden, so we are warned 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.

Thursday is the Yahrzeit of the Rabbi Dovid of Tolna from the line of Chernobyl Rebbes. He and each of his brothers were chassidic leaders of importance. He once met with one of his brothers, Rabbi Yitzchok, the Rebbe of Rachmistrevka. Rabbi Yitzchok was a very humble person and sincerely asked Reb Dovidel why by him there were always many miraculous events, but by Rabbi Yitzchok none!

Reb Dovidel answered him as follows: 'People come to me for blessings and have to wait a very long time to get an audience. And once they get in, even before they have a chance to pour out their hearts, my assistant is already pulling them out. Since the chassid sees that he did not get what he needed from the Rebbe, out of desperation he begins to pray from the depth of his heart in the realization that he must put his faith entirely in G-d. And because of this G-d answers him!

But by you, when anyone comes to see you, you immediately close the text you are studying, ready to hear all of the things that trouble that person, and he relies on your help. Could it be that sometimes, just possibly, that person forgets about G-d? And if he forgets about G-d, from where will his salvation rise?'

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 (25/20-1). '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 Moshiach's arrival during the end of the 6th millennium, which is now. The question is, how will we 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 Moshiach through the revival of the dead, and to the time of the full redemption, the 7th millennium that is solely Shabbat!
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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