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Behar/Bechukotai ~ בהר־בחקתי ~ 5773
1st Aliyah: Parsha Behar begins with the laws of Shemitah & Yovel. The land lay fallow every 7th year, and after the 49th year (7×7) it lay fallow a 2nd year for the 50th year as well.
2nd Aliyah: G-d promises that He will provide for the nation, regardless of the land being fallow; no one will go hungry. The return, at Yovel, of all hereditary lands to their original owners is commanded.
3rd Aliyah: The difference between the sale of a property in a walled city vs. an unwalled city is established. Continuing the theme of providing and dependency, we are commanded to provide for our impoverished brethren. Just as G-d provides for us, we must provide for each other.
4th Aliyah: The freeing of all Jewish slaves at the Yovel is detailed. The Torah discusses redeeming a Jewish slave from a non-Jewish owner, and the formula for how much to pay the non-Jewish master. We begin reading Bechukotai. The opening verses describe the wondrous successes awaiting the nation, so long as they follow G-d’s laws.
5th Aliyah: This aliyah is called the “Tochecha”/The Rebuke. It is a lengthy description of the terrible punishments awaiting the nation, if they do not follow the Torah. It is customary for the Torah Reader to read it faster and more quietly than the rest of the Parashah.
6th Aliyah: The established prices for endowments of individual worth, or that of an animal, are listed.
7th Aliyah: The final portion deals with endowments of property to the Sanctuary.
MAFTIR Leviticus 27:32—34 ~ page 550
HAFTARAH Jeremiah 16:19—17:14 ~ page 551 – 553
The prophet foresees that even the heathen nations will one day recognize the futility of their idols and acknowledge G-d’s supremacy. Yet the people of Judah remain steeped in idol worship and will be driven out of their land to become slaves on foreign soil. Doom awaits the man who relies entirely on human aid and turns away from G-d, whereas blessing will be the reward for the man who trusts in Him. (compare the theme of the Sidra). G-d alone, concludes the prophet, is Israel’s Hope and Savior.
Parashah & Holiday Study Questions
1. Why is the Shnat Yovel declared on Yom Kippur and not for example on Rosh Hashanah, when the new year begins (v. 25:9)? What does this signify?
2. Why do you think the Jubilee Year revolves around “land” and not other possessions?
3. What are the observances on Jerusalem Day observed this Wednesday, May 8?
4. Why do we celebrate a “Jerusalem Day” – why not wait three days and celebrate the entire victory of the Six Day War (like the liberation of the Golan Heights)?
5. Although the orthodox world only studies classical Torah and Talmudic subjects the evening of Shavuot, other communities study the land of Israel, social issues, cultural issues, and even archaeology. Why?