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Behar ~ בהר ~ 5774
The Torah prohibits normal farming of the Land of Israel every seventh year. This “Shabbat” for the Land is called “shemita.” After every seventh shemita, the fiftieth year, yovel (jubilee), is announced with the sound of the shofar on Yom Kippur. This was also a year for the Land to lie fallow. G-d promises to provide a bumper crop prior to the shemita and yovel years. During yovel, all land is returned to its original division from the time of Joshua, and all Jewish indentured servants are freed, even if they have not completed their six years of work. A Jewish indentured servant may not be given any demeaning, unnecessary or excessively difficult work, and may not be sold in the public market. The price of his labor must be calculated according to the amount of time remaining until he will automatically become free. The price of land is similarly calculated. Should anyone sell his ancestral land, he has the right to redeem it after two years. If a house in a walled city is sold, the right of redemption is limited to the first year after the sale. The Levites’ cities belong to them forever. The Jewish people are forbidden to take advantage of one another by lending or borrowing with interest. Family members should redeem any relative who was sold as an indentured servant as a result of impoverishment.
MAFTIR Leviticus 25:55 – 26:-2 ~ page 539
HAFTARAH Jeremiah 32:6 – 32:27 ~ page 539
Yirmiyahu spent most of his career warning the people of the upcoming destruction of the first Temple. In a move geared to encourage the people, and as a sign that after exile, the people will return to Eretz Yisrael, Jeremiah arranges for the purchase and redemption of a plot of land that his family had ties to (and therefore the right of redemption). The redemption is done in an overly demonstrative manner, so that all can see what was going on. This is one of the topics from Parashah Behar, hence the choice of Haftarah.
Parashah & Mother’s Day Study Questions
1. Although there are many “Father-Son” relationships in the Torah, there are only 2 “Mother-Daughter” stories in the Bible. Who were they and what do we know about their relationships?
2. When Rebecca waters the camels and greets Eliezer, servant of Abraham, (Genesis, chapter 24) why do you think Rebecca runs to her MOTHER’S house to report the arrival of a stranger?
3. After Isaac married Rebecca, the Torah says he was finally “comforted over the death of his mother” and then he brings Rebecca into what had been his mother’s tent. What does this mean?
4. Why did the Torah last week use the feminine YOU (at) when referring to the Shabbat, but used the masculine YOU (ata) when referring to Yom Kippur
5. What do you think King Solomon meant when he said “Hearken my son to the discipline of your father and do not forsake the Torah of your mother” (Proverbs 1:8)?