Behar-Behukkotai (Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34)

This week, we finish Leviticus with a double portion.  The Book of Numbers will have a lot more action and cover almost all that remains of the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness.

Behar (Lev. 25:1-26:2) concerns the sabbatical (shmitta) and jubilee (yovel) years which the Israelites will observe in the Promised Land.  Again, we’ve got sevens (see last week’s comments on Emor): the sabbatical is the seventh year in the seven-year cycle, and the jubilee follows seven complete cycles, so it is the 50th year. Just as humans and animals get the seventh day as a day of rest, the land gets to rest during the 7th year.  It lies fallow.  Produce that happens to grow of its own accord (like the “volunteer” tiny tomatoes we had a few years back) can be eaten and is available to all for the taking.  For this to work, the people must have faith that there will be a bumper crop in the sixth year to tide them over, like the double portion of manna to take care of both the 6th day and Sabbath each week in the wilderness.  The shmitta year is indeed observed in Israel currently; there was one just a couple of years ago.

The jubilee year is a time for starting over, like rebooting.  Israelite slaves are freed. This is the source of the verse on the Liberty Bell (Lev. 25:10), “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof.”  Observing the jubilee year can be tricky. First, you have two years in a row in which the land lies fallow, so the crop of the 48th year must be a dandy.  More significantly, land holdings revert to their original owners.   As we’ll read later, debts are also forgiven.  Practically, this must be done in such a way that the economy doesn’t collapse and loans don’t dry up in the few years beforehand.  The idea of the yovel is to remind the people that the land isn’t really theirs, but leased, as it were, from the Lord.

Behukkotai (Lev. 26:3-27:34) describes the blessings that will accrue if the Israelites behave themselves and the punishments they will get if they don’t.  The blessings are summarized succinctly – the usual promises of fertility, peace, strength, prosperity, and communion with the Lord (26:12): “I will walk among you…and you will be a people unto Me.”  The punishments are described graphically, and the list is much longer.  This section is referred to as the minor tochachah (warning, admonition, curses – you get the idea); the major one is in Deuteronomy.  There are five sets of increasingly bad punishments; the increase in severity stems from continued sinning.  After each set, there is a chance to repent and change your behavior.

Next week: back to the narrative.

Shabbat shalom,


tph reboot


tph sabbatical

Category: On 1 Foot
Parshas Behar
by S. Galena Posted: 07-09-2006(Viewed 699 times)

God: Don’t plow your land every seventh year.
Jews: But who will provide for us in the 7th year?
God: Deal or No Deal?
God reminds them of tochacha (punishments)
Jews: Deal!


21 Stupid Warning Labels That Will Make You Feel Like a Genius

Warning: Do not read this post while unconscious.

By Reader’s Digest Editors

On a wheelbarrow: Not intended for highway use.

On a baby stroller:  Remove child before folding.

On Apple’s website: Do not eat iPod Shuffle.

On a bottle of dog medication: May cause drowsiness…Use care when operating a car.

On a dishwasher: Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher.

On a box of rat poison: Warning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice.

On a “vanishing ink” marker:  Should not be used for signing checks or any legal documents.


23 Ruthless ‘Politely-Worded Curses’

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Jeff Wysaski

If you ever find yourself in a situation where using an actual curse word is impossible, then these safe-for-work alternatives just might serve as viable substitutes.

  • May you forever feel your cell phone vibrating in the pocket it’s not even in.
  • May the chocolate chips in your cookies always turn out to be raisins.
  • May your tea be too hot when you receive it, and too cold by the time you remember it’s there.
  • May you have your laptop charge overnight without noticing the chord isn’t plugged into the wall.
  • May every “empty” parking space you see in the distance actually contain a motorcycle.
  • May every sock you wear be slightly rotated, just enough for it to be uncomfortable.
  • May your cookie always be slightly too large to fit inside your glass of milk.
  • May you never remember these curses when you try to.


Quotes about Starting Over

There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.     Franz Kafka

If God closes a door AND a window, consider the fact that it might be time to build a whole new house.    Mandy Hale

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.     T.S. Eliot

Never forget, Today, you have 100% of your life left.     Tom Hopkins


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