Behar (Lev. 25:1-26:2)

Another short portion, only 57 verses.  It begins and ends on the same note:  The Sabbath.  The Promised Land is to be given a rest every seven years, just as people must observe one every seven days.  The land is to lie fallow during this sabbatical (shemitah) year and the people can eat produce that happens to grow.  

Since a lot of what is planted and harvested in one year is actually eaten in the next, the Lord promises (25:21-2) that the sixth year harvest will be ample enough to last through years 7 and 8 as well.  Sowing will re-start in year 8, while they’re still eating the old food, and then, in the ninth year, they finally get to eat new food, harvested in year 8.  There is a lot more detail in the Talmud.  The shemitah year is observed Israel, and the next one will start in the fall of 2021.  The sabbatical is intended to be a pause for reflection as well as physical rest, a reminder that, as stated in 25:2, the land is given by the Lord to the Children of Israel.  There is also something of a temporary leveling of rich (in land) and poor in that year.  As we’ll read in Deuteronomy, debts are also cancelled in the sabbatical year, which obviously has moral and economic consequences.

Most of Behar is occupied with the jubilee (yovel) year which occurs in the 50th year, i.e., after 7 times 7 years.  This presents a whole new set of issues.  Obviously, there are two sabbatical years in a row.  Then in 25:10, we read, “You shall proclaim liberty (release) throughout the land for all its inhabitants. (A slightly different translation of this is inscribed on the Liberty Bell.)   It shall be a jubilee for you: each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family.”  Land is not to be sold in perpetuity but returns to its original holders.  Additionally, laws concerning redemption of land before the yovel require that relatives help one another and not allow kin to remain impoverished.

The institution of the jubilee year acknowledges that an untrammeled free market will eventually distort the economy and increase inequality (some things never change). The jubilee year deals with that through the redistribution of land, thereby providing a reset of the economy.

The importance of these laws is illustrated in the haftarah, Jeremiah 32:6-27, in which the Lord commands Jeremiah to redeem a familial parcel even though the Babylonians have already laid siege to Jerusalem.  We’ll read about the dire consequences of not obeying next week.

Shabbat shalom,


tph sabbatical-day-six


Economic Models Explained With Cows (selections)


SOCIALISM: You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbor.
COMMUNISM: You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk. 
FASCISM: You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk. 
NAZISM: You have 2 cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income. 
AMERICAN CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead. 
FRENCH CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows. 
JAPANESE CAPITALISM: You have 2 cows. You redesign them so they are 1/10 the size of an ordinary cow, and produce the milk of 20 cows. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called cowkimon and market them worldwide.
ITALIAN CAPITALISM: You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch. 
CHINESE CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation. 
RUSSIAN CAPITALISM: You have 2 cows. You count them and learn that you have 5 cows. You count them again and learn that you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn that you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of Vodka.
GREEK CAPITALISM: You have two cows borrowed from French and German banks. You eat both of them. The banks call to collect their milk, but you cannot deliver so you call the IMF. The IMF loans you two cows. You eat both of them. The banks and the IMF call to collect their cows/milk. You are out getting a haircut.

78,283 views • 1,557 upvotes  Written 9 Jul 2013


4th of July Name Trivia

There is a Liberty in Missouri population of about 30,000.  However the state of Iowa has more Liberty places than any other state (Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty).

The most well know ‘Independence’ is found in Missouri, it has about 120,000 residents.

Five places adopted the name “freedom.” New Freedom, Pennsylvania is the most populous with 5,000 residents.

There is but one place named “Patriot” and that is Patriot, Indiana, with a population of 210.

July 8, 1776 – The first public reading of the declaration takes place in Philadelphia’s Independence Square. The bell in Independence Hall, then known as the “Province Bell” would later be renamed the “Liberty Bell” after its inscription – “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.”


Quotes about Freedom

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.  Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.  George Orwell

True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.  Franklin D. Roosevelt

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.  Soren Kierkegaard

Cancel Your Credit Card

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die. This is so priceless, and so, so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today!!!

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange:

Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you she died in January.’
Citibank: ‘The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’
Family Member: ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.’
Citibank: ‘Since it is two months past due, it already has been.’
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’
Citibank: ‘Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!’
Family Member: ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’ (I really liked this part!!!!)
Citibank: ‘Excuse me?’
Family Member: ‘Did you just get what I was telling you – the part about her being dead?’
Citibank: ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’ (Duh!)

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died in January.’
Citibank: ‘The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.’ (This must be a phrase taught by the bank!)
Family Member: ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’
Citibank: (Stammer) ‘Are you her lawyer?’
Family Member: ‘No, I’m her great nephew.’ (Lawyer info given)
Citibank: ‘Could you fax us a certificate of death?’
Family Member: ‘Sure.’ (Fax number is given)

After they get the fax:

Citibank: ‘Our system just isn’t setup for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.’
Family Member: ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she will care.’
Citibank: ‘Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.’(What is wrong with these people?!?)
Family Member: ‘Would you like her new billing address?’
Citibank: ‘That might help.’
Family Member: ‘ Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.’
Citibank: ‘Sir, that’s a cemetery!’
Family Member: ‘What do you do with dead people on your planet???

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