Behar-Bechukotai in a Nutshell
On the mountain of Sinai, G‑d communicates to Moses the laws of the Sabbatical year: every seventh year, all work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast.
Seven Sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year—the Jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners. Additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against fraud and usury, are also given.
G‑d promises that if the people of Israel will keep His commandments, they will enjoy material prosperity and dwell secure in their homeland. But He also delivers a harsh “rebuke,” warning of the exile, persecution and other evils that will befall them if they abandon their covenant with Him. Nevertheless, “Even when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor will I ever abhor them, to destroy them and to break My covenant with them; for I am the L‑rd their G‑d.”
The Parshah concludes with the rules on how to calculate the values of different types of pledges made to G‑d.
Thought for the week
And if your brother becomes poor, and his means fail with you, then shall you uphold him (Lev. 25:35)
The Jewish people is likened to a single body, with all the corresponding physical components and organs: head, heart, etc. Just as when there is pain in one limb the entire body suffers, so too should every Jew experience the pain of his fellow and take steps to alleviate it.
If you see someone floundering in the mud, the only way to help him is to jump down and pull him up. To help a fellow Jew, we must be willing to sink down into the mud up till our neck. (Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin)
Thought for the week
And holy men you shall be to Me (Ex. 22:30)
G-d wants us to sanctify that aspect of us that makes us human, and to perform holy, “humanitarian” actions. G-d desires good and holy people, as He already has plenty of angels to do His bidding.