Parshat Behar-Bechukotai – May 8, 2021 – 26 Iyyar 5781

41st day of the Omer

Parshat BeharBechukotai

  • Stone Chumash, p. 696
  • 135 verses
  • Haftorah: Jeremiah XVI V.19, Stone Chumash, pg. 1179 “Hashem Uzi UmaUzi”
  • Pirkei Avot – Chapter 5

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting:   7:37p
  • Vasikin (Sunrise) 6:04:56a
  • Latest Shma:      9:32a
  • Earliest Mincha   1:35p
  • Havdalah:            8:37p
  • Zoom Havdalah  8:50p
  • Tomorrow: Mother’s Day!

General Intro

Parshat Behar-Bechukosai contains several themes:

  • 1) The laws of the Shmittah, or the Sabbatical year. The laws of Yovel.
  • 2) Not to overcharge buyers of property.
  • 3) Ancestral properties may not be sold in perpetuity.
  • 4) the rules for someone who indentures himself out of personal penury.
  • 5)The prohibition against prostrating to G-d upon a stone floor.
  • 6) The blessings vouchsafed for observance of the Torah.
  • 7) The punishment which will follow its desecration G.F. 
  • 8)The laws of a “valuation donation.”
  • 9) Substitute Korbonos.
  • 10) Redemption of sanctified fields and property.
  • 11) Laws of Herem.

The Moral of the Story

Behar – Why does G-d want the Jewish people to cease all agricultural activities in the land of Israel on the Sabbatical year? Most likely, in order to remind us that our livelihoods are a total gift from G-d. Our labors, which are certainly necessary, and required by G-d, are not really connected to our reward. Work fulfills G-d’s purpose for us on earth: “Man was created to labour.” Our Parnassah, on the other hand, is established on Rosh Hashana each year, irrespective of whether we work or not.

Another reason for the Shmitta is to give us a much-needed year off, in which we should totally dedicate ourselves to the study of the Torah and the performance of the Mitzvot without the distractions of work. It is sort of a microcosm of “Heaven on Earth.” Shmittah reminds us that ultimately all wealth is in the hands of G-d, and if we fulfill his commands, we will be worthy of his largess.

Bechukosai – The long list of punishments and warnings that are found in our parsha are not intended to depress or demoralize us. To the contrary, G-d wants us to worship Him with joy! Before the sin of the Golden Calf, such an admonition would have been unseemly and out of place, like reminding someone not to lean too far out of a window lest he fall. After that sin, however, our spiritual vision had become damaged; our view of life had become altered and our relationship to G-d was suddenly upset. 

G-d, whose love for His people is unbounded, desires to protect us from any possible damage we may do to ourselves. He therefore put up the huge warning signs of the “Tochacha,” lest we lean too far out the window. If, heaven forfend, the Tochacha should come to pass, it would ultimately serve to restore our relationship as it had been in our halcyon days, before the sin of the Golden Calf.