Shabbat Behar-Behukotai 5783
The covenant of Sinai, of which we haven’t heard much since the Book of Exodus, is revisited in Parshat Behar, the first of our two Torah portions this Shabbat. We read of the laws of Shemittah, or as the sabbatical year is called in this part of the Torah, “Shabbat Ha-aretz,” the Sabbath of the Land. Included in these laws are the legal and moral consequences of economic hardship. For example:
“When your brother sinks low [in poverty] and sells some of his possessions, a redeemer who is close to him shall come forth and redeem that which his brother has sold” (Leviticus 25:25).
In context, this is about the interdependence of kinfolk. When someone is in financial straits, it is family that must come to the fore and redeem that which was lost out of necessity.
The key term in Hebrew here is ahikha, “your brother.” How far do you think this relationship extends? How broadly do we define “next of kin?” On Shabbat afternoon, when we do our usual Hasidut study, we will see one very daring definition for brotherhood. You won’t want to miss it!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise
Candle lighting: 7:44 PM
Torah Reading: Leviticus 25:1-27:34
Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14