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Parashat Behar-Bechukotai - 5775

My friends,

This is another Shabbat when a double portion is read. Behar deals with the laws of Shemitah (the Sabbatical year) and the Jubilee year, and our obligation to help someone in need.

The Shemitah year is similar to the day of Shabbat. We work six days, but cease work and rest on the seventh day. The land also deserves a year off. We may work it and enjoy its produce for six years, but we are commanded to let it rest on its Shabbat year, the Shemitah year.

After counting seven cycles of seven years, the fiftieth year is called the Jubilee year:

"You shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty for all its inhabitants, it shall be a jubilee for you. Each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family." (Leviticus 25:10)

All land that has been sold returns to its original owner. The reason given is because G-d says, "Kee Lee kol Haaretz" - "“because all the land is Mine, you are but strangers resident with me." We are only tenants in this world. We are commanded to remember that and take care of it in a way that future generations can also enjoy it, because the land is not ours to waste.

The portion of Behar is a wonderful reminder of our responsibility in preventing damage to our environment, because it is not really ours and also because that is the only place we have.

Bechukotai has many warnings of the horrible curses - what will happen to our lives and our world if we should not keep G-d's commandments. It ends a on a positive note - that G-d will always remember in our favor the covenant made with our ancestors.

This Book of Leviticus, which contains more commandments than any other book of the Torah concludes with these words: "These are the commandments that the L-rd gave Moses for the Children of Israel on Mount Sinai". To mark the completion of this book, the congregation joins in saying, "Hazak, Hazak Venithazek" - "Be strong, be strong, and we shall be strengthened."

Studying Torah and keeping the Mitzvot is an ongoing lifetime endeavor. We are to be congratulated at the completion of each stage. Hazak, Hazak Venithazek.

Shabbat Shalom,