Tuesday, May 10, 2011

behar

BEHAR

This week’s parsha opens with the Lord speaking to Moses again on Mount Sinai; one would expect additional rules, regulations or commandments since this is the original site of the giving of the TORAH, the instruction manual of how to be holy in our relation to God and with each other. Moses is to not only “speak” to them (give them the words which were spoken to him) but to “say” (give them the interpretation of what was spoken). Since the TORAH was given as a covenant, these words which they heard and understood were also to be part of that same covenant.

Since the first five commandments detailed how the Israelites were to worship God, the first additional statute also detailed the concepts of resting and releasing. Just as the weekly Sabbath permitted the Israelite to rest from his daily activities (work) and released him to honor God, the seventh year Sabbath allowed the land to rest from it’s productive work and be released from it’s appointed task of providing food. Reaping and gathering for storage and selling were not permitted during this year; that required for daily sustenance was, however, permitted. Since the purpose of these laws was to promote social equality in Israel, anyone was permitted to use anything and everything wherever it grew. During this time, also, a general redemption was granted, not only for the land but to include personal indebtedness, whether in payment for services rendered, crops sold or voluntary servitude. This same proclamation of releasing was to be amplified in Yeshua at the start of His ministry when He read the haftarah portion from the scroll of Isaiah.

The concept of releasing also included Israelites who had had to sell land and/or its produce to satisfy a debt. There appear to be several reasons why a landowner would be brought to such dire straits----crop failure, family members dying or becoming ill enough to disallow participation in sowing/reaping or other personal misfortunes which would force a person to sell his land. Even in this distressing situation there was a provision to mitigate a person’s slide into poverty. A person’s family, if able, could purchase the land to satisfy the indebtedness so the land could remain in the family. Once the situation was reversed and the land began producing again to repay the redemption debt, the land again belonged to the original owner. Irrespective of the amount of time required to alleviate the indebtedness, every 50 years (jubilee or yovel), the land reverted to its original owner and his remaining indebtedness, if any, was discharged.

The law of redemption and the law of the jubilee year are vivid symbols which find very common usage in the Psalms and the prophets of God’s being Israel’s Redeemer who will stand up for His people and vindicate them. The use of the word in this regard is predicated upon the idea of judgment of Israel’s oppressors as the ransom--redemption from a bondage worse than slavery.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this blog and discussion last night. These days were set up for Hashem presence on earth and giving back land and freeing peoples debt and srenghting our relationship with Him?

    "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

    I never really understood what kind of change Rav Shaul was talking about until Rabbi Yaakov explained it last night. Very good information.

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