learning: Behar · Bechukotai, and upcoming holidays

estimated 5 min read

I feel the ante’s been upped and hopefully it will enhance my learning.

This week we learn Behar · Bechukotai (Vayikra 25:1-27:34) and finish the book of Vayikra. In this parsha we learn of the sabbath year (known as the shemitta year) which occurs every seven years and the jubilee year after seven by seven years, or the fiftieth year also known as a Yovel* (Vayikra 25:10). We learn the guidance hashem has provided for us during this time. We learn how to help our fellow who has become impoverished.
We learn that if we observe the commandments of Hashem we shall prosper; the land shall produce and there shall be peace of enemies and wild beasts. We learn how haShem shall rebuke us if we renounce the commandments. Yet, haShem shall not forget and will remember the covenant of the forebears, who were taken out of Egypt. Lastly we learn how to value various vows to hashem.

I highly urge you to not rely on my translation and summary.
the text (in translation) and a summary.

So, now what? That is the simple meaning just a translation. What if we want to understand a bit more? There are many Divrei Torah about each parsha on the web, I’ve provided many links in the past.

I also love Nehama Leibowitz. I was lucky several years ago to find a copy of her Studies in the Weekly Sidra for 5715, the First Series (for $1, there is some red pen underlining and some pencil, but that’s ok). Nehama was an amazing teacher and her goal was “to enable the student [to] appreciate the inspired qualities of every letter of the Torah, and this includes both the written and oral law, rabbinic comment and exegesis, endearing both Holy Writ and its Revealer to its devotees.” I own a few others of her books, but not for Vayikra.

In this first series, she takes us to four paragraphs speaking of “impovershment of one’s fellow-jew” (Vayikra beginning at 25:25, 25:35, 25:39, 25:47). She focuses on the standard of living of a jewish servant because as we see in 25:42, “For they are my servants which I brought out of Egypt, they shall not be sold the sale of a bondsman”. I’m really not sure how to bring her wonderful lesson to you due to copyright. I am quite sure that this volume is out of print, but am not sure what to do. I’m in awe at how much I learned by reading her commentary and how she wove it all together. I always am. I’m open to suggestions as I would love to learn this with someone.

Some of you may ask: Why are these two parshot read together? It has to do with the calendar, when it’s a leap year there are more Shabbatot so when it isn’t, they are read together.

ok, onward to other “stuff” coming up..

Yom Yerushalayim is next week, 16 May. This day celebrates the reunification of Yerushalyaim following the six day war. Please see aish, myjewishlearning.com, and torah.org for more details.

Rosh Chodesh Sivan is next Friday. The significance of Rosh Chodesh can be read at ou.org. Sivan is the month when we came to the desert at Sinai. It is the third month in the calendar (Nisan is first). And most specially, it is the month in which we received the torah at har (mount) sinai.

With Sivan it means that Shavout is not far away. Naaseh V’Nishmah! We also read the megillah of Ruth. (Please see chabad or aish for additional information and different viewpoints).

Ok, last night I said I’d try to highlight a blog each day that made me think. Since today is of jewish things, what is a jewish blog (jblog) which makes me think? I think I will list two today as I am eager to get them both out and wish I could have included them yesterday.

The first is JWA Blog a project of JWA which I began reading recently. wow. I might not agree with all of it, I might not fully understand all of it, but it makes me sit and think. And that it good.

Second is Chana’s The Curious Jew (nb: I am 41 posts behind). Chana is wise beyond her years and I look forward to each of her posts and hope to block some time soon to read what she has written recently.

שׁבּת שׁלום

* Rashi (paraphrased) says that this year is unique because of its name. Yovel means “rams horn” and it is thus named because of the blowing of the shofar^. He disagrees with Ibn Ezra and the Ramban. I haven’t learned them so I can only say that the notes I have say he disagrees with them.

^ a shofar is a rams horn which is blown at certain times in the year. I cannot deny really want to try one. I’ve been known to be able to play any wind instrument. There is no way that it could sound worse than my first attempts at bassoon (which my mother likened to a slowly dying and tortured cow. perhaps that’s why I’m mostly vegetarian these days.)

Sources:
The Sapirstein Edition of The Torah, student size. I prefer this edition as rashi is written out in Rashi Script (or wikipedia), regular Hebrew print, and English is also provided. My Hebrew is not where I wish it were (both ‘biblical’ and modern). This helps me out. I can read Rashi script for short periods of time but I tire pretty easily as there is a TON of processing for my brain (ok, which letter is that, ok what word does that form, what does that word mean, ok let’s move on to the next and try and puzzle it out). I am also a large fan of this imprint, but I do not have space to purchase any more seforim at the moment. *sigh*

Leibowitz, Nehama. Studies in the Weekly Sidra; 5720 Annual (on the spine, First Series—5715 on the title page). It was translated and adapted from the Hebrew by Aryeh Newman and was published by the World Zionist Organisation Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. It was printed in 5719/1958 the “Tenth Year of the State of Israel” in Jerusalem.