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  • Rabbi Skorka

BeHar – The redemption of humanity and earth



Chapter 25 of the Book of Leviticus and the first two verses of 26 make up this small parashah in its entirety, but it is one of the most important readings because of the precepts it contains. It presents biblical wisdom about the social principles upon which Hebrew society should be built and by extension all human society in general.


Earth that is farmed must rest every seventh year, which is called Shemitah, and after the seventh Shemitah the earth will have one additional year of rest, the Yovel. The duty to care for this planet, the great home on which we live, is evidently one of the guiding principles of this commandment, as explained by Maimonides in Moreh Nevukhim III, 39.


Each family must have a plot of land that is assigned to it by lot, which can be leased. The family can lease out the land if its members cannot work it, but they can never lose title to it. All lands must return to its original owners in the Yovel. This rule clearly aims to ensure the dignified livelihood and sufficiency of each of the families that constitute the people. Solidarity with the needy is another of the precepts expressed in this parashah.

Social justice and the care of the planet are clearly prioritized and demanded by God from ancient times and remain an increasingly urgent issue for humanity in the present.

Shabbat shalom!





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