Newsletter #17, 2015

Parshah Behar-Bechukotai בְּהַר בְּחֻקֹּתַי (Leviticus 25:1-27:34)

In this parasha G-d gives instructions to Moshe regarding the laws of the Sabbatical Year:
You may sow your field for six years, and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, nor shall you prune your vineyard.
lf seven sabbatical years, seven years seven times. And the days of these seven sabbatical years shall amount to forty nine years for you.
This fiftieth year shall not be a Jubilee for you you shall not sow, nor shall you reap its aftergrowth or pick that you had set aside.
HaShem also give instruction on financial transactions between fellow Jews during the Jubilee year and G-d promises that if the people of Israel will keep His commandments, they will enjoy security and prosperity in their homeland. However, the Israelites get a stern warning:
But if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments, if you reject My laws and spurn My rules, so that you do not observe all of My commandments and you break My covenant, I in turn will do this to you: I will order upon you shock, consumption, fever, and diseases that cause hopeless longing and depression. You will sow your seed in vain, and your enemies will eat it. Finally, the parasha concludes with the rules on calculating different type of values of pledges made to Gd.parasha
The number seven is very prominent in the Jewish lifestyle. Shabbat marks the 7th day of the week which commemorates the original seven days of creation. G-d rested on the 7th day. Was G-d tired? Of course not! But, he knew us and he gave this day to us to reconnect with him. After each Sabbath, we start anew from the first day (yom rishon). Many of the Jewish lifecycle observances are seven-day affairs:
– Passover and Sukkot are 7 days festival.
– Marriage is celebrated for 7 days the week of berachot.
– Mourning of a loved one. Shivah is a period of mourning. Shivah means “seven”; this refers to the first 7 days of mourning.
– The Seven-branched Menorah is a reminder of the words written in Isaiah 42:6, “….to be a light to all nations.
– Shavuot is celebrated to commemorate Moses receiving the Torah with the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. This happened 7 weeks after they had departed from Egypt.
– There were 7 blessings given to Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov.
– There are 7 clean days of the niddah.
The joy of Sabbath, the freedom of Passover, the celebration of Sukkot, the bonding of marriage, and coming to terms with loss, natural female cycle and blessing our patriarchs are just a few examples of the connection of the 7th day creation to the dimension of Jewish life. The Kabbalists explain that the seven days of creation represent the 7 divine attributes which Gd originated from Himself to define and characterize His relationship with our existence.
The cycles of 7 years also follows the pattern creation. Six years are succeeded by a sabbatical year of Shemittah, which means “suspension”. In the Land of Israel, on the seventh year the land is rested and all agricultural work is ceased. The produce of the land of that year is free to take. All private debts are forgiven in the Shemittah year as well as the terms of servitude of indentured servants.
Our sages describe human history in terms of a seven millennium cycle as well. After the 6000 years of labor, the 7th millennium Shabbat rest will usher in the era of HaMoshiach and world to come for everlasting life. The joy of the millennium Sabbath! How sweet is going to be! Shabbat Shalom! Yosef


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Read Torah from Around the World #271 By Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild, Landesrabbiner of Schleswig-Holstein; Or Chadash Liberal Jewish Community, Vienna, Austria.

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