Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parashah Behar / “on the mount” Vayikra 25:1 – 26:2 Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2

Parashah Behar / “on the mount”

Vayikra 25:1 – 26:2       Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2

Parashah 1 – Vayikra 25:1 – 13

            On the mount.  It is an interesting title to this week’s reading.  Moses is up on the mountain of the Lord as he seems to have been for quite a number of chapters prior to this one, and it appears that he continues in this locale through the end of the book.
            In this short set of passages, though it is the longest one of this week’s readings, information is passed down to Moses regarding the year of shabbat as well as the year of jubilee.  What more can we say as we seemingly have a pretty good understanding of the mechanics of these commands/
            It is apparent in verse two that the sabbatical year was not a requirement of the land until the Children of Israel took possession – “…When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord”.  We are all probably familiar with the concept – sow, prune, and harvest for six years; but on the seventh year, the sabbatical year, the land is not to be sown nor are the plantings to be pruned, and what does grow is not to be harvested (vss. 4 – 7).  However, as I read verse two, it also seems to say that the first year the Israelites were in the land was to be a sabbath, at least for the plantings, for the land.  After all, weren’t the people going to eat from vineyards they did not plant (Dt. 6:11 and Joshua 24:13)?
            Likewise, the Year of Jubilee is to be treated in the same manner (vs. 11).  The Year of Jubilee is the fiftieth year; it is also, a year that immediately follows every seventh sabbatical year.  WHAT!  TWO YEARS IN A ROW WITHOUT WORKING THE FIELDS!  WHAT WILL WE EAT?  HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?
            Well, the answers to those supremely relevant questions is not provided in this day’s reading, and as I am bound by the parameters of this particular parashah, I will simply refer you to the third reading of the week, verses 20 – 24.
            There is another event, one that is occurring currently to which I would like to allude.  We are counting the omer, and assuming that everyone is or will soon be in the Biblical day before shabbat, the omer count is now  20.  In the counting of the omer and in the counting of the Year of Jubilee, is there a similarity?  I guess since I asked the question the readers are assuming the answer is “yes”.  Bully for you!
            It took seven sabbatical years to get to the year after the seventh sabbatical year, which was called the Year of Jubilee.  To complete the counting of the omer, one must go through seven sabbaths and then add one more day to attain the fifiteth day.
            The Year of Jubilee is a year of the return of the possessions of the land to the family’s of the Children of Israel.  Another word for this in my vocabulary is “restoration”.  As we look at our prophet Moses receiving the ten words, the ten commandments, on the mountain of the Lord, we must consider whether these commandments are binding the people or are they setting them free?  Likewise, what about the events of Shavuot some fifteen hundred years later?  The Comforter descended (Acts 2), and Yeshua HaMashiach was preached.  There were three thousand saved on that day, and what were they saved from?  They, as we, were saved from having to make the payments necessary for our own sins, for the times we have missed the mark.  The three thousand of that day, were they bound or set free?

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