Parashat Behar & Behukotai: Leviticus; Chapter 25 Verse 1 - Chapter 27 Verse 34

05/09/2018 11:25:34 AM


Parashat Behar & Behukotai: Leviticus; Chapter 25 Verse 1 – Chapter 27 Verse 34

General Overview: This week we read two Torah portions, Behar and Behukotai, which are the last two portions of the third book of Moses; Vayikra. We read about the Shemitah (Sabbatical) and Yovel (Jubilee) years, laws regulating commerce and the redemption of slaves. It also contains a vivid description of the rewards for observing G‑d's commandments and the series of punishments that will befall us if we choose to disregard them. The Torah then discusses different types of gifts given to the Temple, and the animal tithe.

1st Section: The laws of Shemitah and Yovel are detailed. The land lay fallow every 7th year, and after the 49th year, (7×7) it lay fallow a 2nd year for the 50th as well.

2nd Section: G-d promises (25:21-22) that He will provide for the nation, regardless of the land being fallow. No one will go hungry. The return, at Yovel, of all hereditary lands to their original owners is commanded.

3rd Section: The difference between the sale of a property in a walled city vs. an unwalled city is established. Continuing the theme of providing and dependency, we are commanded to provide for our impoverished brethren. Just as Hashem provides for us, we must provide for each other.

4th Section: The freeing of all Jewish slaves at the Yovel is detailed. The Torah discusses redeeming a Jewish slave from a non-Jewish owner, and the formula for how much to pay the non-Jewish master. The opening verses of Parashat Behukotai describe the wondrous successes awaiting the nation, so long as they follow Hashem’s Commandments.

5th Section: This Section is called the Tochecha – The Rebuke. It is a lengthy description of the terrible punishments awaiting the nation, if they do not follow the Torah. It is customary for the Ba’al Koreh (Reader) to have this Aliya, and to read it faster and more quietly than the rest of the Parasha.

6th Section: The established prices for endowments of individual worth, or that of an animal, are listed.

7th Section: The final portion deals with endowments of property to the Bait Hamikdash.

Haftara: Jeremiah; Chapter 16 verse 19 – Chapter 17 Verse 14

Haftara Summary: The Haftarah discusses the punishments that await those who disregard Hashem's laws, and the blessings that for those who follow the Creator's wishes. This follows the theme of this week's Torah reading which details at length the blessings and curses.

The prophet Jeremiah rebukes the people of Israel for their idolatrous ways and for not having faith in G‑d. He conveys G‑d's words of wrath towards those who do not put their trust in Him - foretelling exile as their punishment - and of blessings for those who do.

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and relies on mortal flesh for his strength, and whose heart turns away from the G‑d. He shall be like a lone tree in the desert, and will not see when good comes, and will dwell on parched land in the desert, on salt-sodden soil that is not habitable. Blessed is the man who trusts in the G‑d, to whom G‑d will be his trust. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, and which spreads its roots out into a stream, so it will not be affected when heat comes, and its leaves shall be green, and in the year of drought will not be anxious, neither shall it cease from bearing fruit."

The Haftorah ends with the following moving verses: "G‑d who is the source of the hopes of Israel, all that forsake You shall be shamed, and they who turn away from me shall be marked out on the earth that they have forsaken G‑d, the source of living waters. Heal me, O G‑d, then shall I be healed; help me, then I shall be helped, for You are my praise!"

Sun, May 27 2018 13 Sivan 5778