Behar Bechukosei

Weekly Parsha Summary

Behar Bechukosei

On the mountain of Sinai, Hashem communicates to Moshe the laws of Shmita-The Sabbatical year: Every seventh year, all work on the land of Israel should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast.

Seven Sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year—the Jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all ancestral estatesin the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners. Additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against fraud and usury, are also given.

Hashem promises that if the people of Israel will keep His commandments, they will enjoy material prosperity and dwell secure in their homeland. But He also delivers a harsh “rebuke,” warning of the exile, persecution and other evils that will befall them if they abandon their covenant with Him. Nevertheless, “Even when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor will I ever abhor them, to destroy them and to break My covenant with them; for I am the L-rd  their G-d.”

The Parshah concludes with the rules on how to calculate the values of different types of pledges made to Hashem.

Rabbi's Shabbos Message

In this week's parsha, Hashem gives us a detailed warning on what will happen to us if we fail to follow the Torah properly. Following these gruesome details, the Torah goes on to discuss the rules of valuations. If somebody wanted to 'donate himself' to the Beis Hamikdash, the Cohanim would evaluate the person and state a monetary amount which he would then pay.

Rav Feinstein questioned why these two subjects are right next to each other? What does tochacha (reproof) have to do with valuations?

He answers that it's only after a person goes through trying times, which is most often a reproof from Hashem, that he can truly look at himself afterwards and give an honest evaluation.

Before any hard times, it's easy for a person to fool himself into thinking he's on a high spiritual level. But the truth is, a person can be judged properly when he sees how he holds himself in trying times. I believe it was Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the famed 20th Maine (at least famed for us Civil War history nerds) that said, "War is for the participants a test of character: it makes bad men worse and good men better".

The war with the yetzer horah is no different. When it's peaceful, you can trick yourself, but in the heat of battle, you're able to take a good look at yousrelf and see who you truly are. 

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