Thursday, May 18, 2017

Parashah Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34)


Double Parashah 
Behar (On the mountain)  -  Vayikra 25:1-26:2
Bechukotai (In my status)  -  Vayikra 26:3-27:34

We see throughout the following Torah Portions, that HaShem doesn't despise the wealthy or blessed, as He Himself blesses and gives the ability for wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18, Number 6:24), He does have however compassion and grace for all creation, for all Yishrael will know His grace and blessing, and be refreshed. Through understanding that ultimately HaShem owns all things and allows a person to live in His blessing, Yishrael was required to also partake in this extravagant generosity and grace, allowing for all Yisrael to have an equally proportional opportunity to a fresh start every Jubilee (Yowbel).

  • Behar (On the mountain) -

This Torah Portion starts with HaShem reminding Yishrael, it was Him who gave the land to them and as occupiers there were requirements, as 25:2 states, "When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD". Following this HaShem gives instruction that an Israelite farmer must let his land remain fallow every seventh year, this allowed for the land to regain fertility, and for man to rest, as did HaShem on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). HaShem shows us in this text of His mercy and grace towards His people 25:6, though a person was not permitted to work the land, the land will still produce. What comes of the land with no required labour, is available not just for the owner but for all, including the poor, slaves, and even the beast. In the year of Jubilee HaShem treats the land and its harvest as His own, allowing the freedom for whoever wills to eat off it, being refreshed, filled, and blessed.

Matthew 6:31-33, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you".

When we obey HaShem and live according to his commandments, we find that our day to day is blessed, even so in the times of rest the blessing still flows.

In verse 8 the generous heart of HaShem is expressed to a whole new level. HaShem states that every 49 years on Yom Kippur the shofar is to be sounded to state the 50th year is Jubilee. HaShem once again reminds Yishrael who their provider is, where their blessing comes from, and whose land it is 25:23, "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me". Just as HaShem supplied extra manna on the 6th day to cover the 7th day of Sabbath rest during the wilderness exodus in Genesis 16:5, HaShem also covered the year of Jubilee by supplying 3 years worth on the 49th year - this cover the 49th, the 50th and the new year of sowing, while waiting for the 2nd years harvest 25:20-22. Jubilee was a year of “release” for the land and all its inhabitants - Slaves would be set free, debts would be canceled, and the stewardship of the land would revert to its original titleholders. HaShem made a way for debt to be over turned, property to be re purchased, people to be redeemed, and poverty restructured.

In the last 2 verses of this parashat 26:1-2, HaShem reminds Yisrael that there is no other G-d, and they are not to create gods, and He also reminds them of the importance of keeping His sabbaths and to reverence the Holy Place.

  • Bechukotai  (In my status) -

I would consider Vayikra 26 as an emotional black and white chapter, moving from promises of blessing to promises of mayhem, back to an open door for blessing - almost as though HaShem conflicts within Himself between His passion for Yisrael, and Holiness, a tention between disobedience and His desire to bless and love upon Yishrael. HaShem time and time again reminds His people of His Lordship, as creator and owner of all things, and through His love and grace for us He is always making a way that we can return to Him, as 1 Timothy reminds, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth". 

Vaikra 27 on the other hand, is a fantastic last chapter to a book that is not full of mere traditions and customs, though men began to attach traditions and customs to these commandments; these were – and are – the commandments (not suggestions) of the Lord. So moving and liberating were these, many people consecrate themselves, others and things to the HaShem.

Vayikra 27:2, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When a man consecrates...".

Consecrates is the Hebrew word 'pala' and means, 'to do a wonderous thing'. Chapter 27 expresses exactly that, however in exchange to HaShems blessing upon them, Yishrael is moved to do wonderful things for Him.

  • In summary

The idea of these chapters being partnered together gives a fantastic overview of the relationship desired and had between HaShem and Yishrael. Obedience is freedom, obedience releases blessing, as well as favour, and when HaShem's love is received one can't help but respond. This parashah demontrates the freedom and blessing that comes through obedience which was later manifested through Yeshua, but no longer so much due to obedience, but rather faith which in turn requires obedience to be outworked, as Galatians 5:1 says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage".  To be obedient is one thing, but in order to stand fast, one requires faith with obedience. This weeks parashah examplifies the heart of HaShem and the nature of humanity.

Graeme Politanski

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