The Sabbatical Year

The Sabbatical Year

May 19, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Behar

The DNA of Judaism is the number seven.

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Ethics in Business

Ethics in Business

May 23, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

When in Israel last, I needed to buy a pair of tefillin as a bar–mitzva gift. Deep inside Mea Shearim, my son and I finally found the shop that had been recommended to us, a hole in the wall on the main street, that specialized in tefillin. The space was musty and untidy and cluttered with religious books and artifacts. Behind the counter presided an elderly and diminutive couple, whose vigor belied their years. They bounded from one end of the counter to the other to serve an unending flow of customers.

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Between Brothers and Neighbors

Between Brothers and Neighbors

May 17, 2003 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Behar

Chapter 25 of Vayikra, which makes up the bulk of Parashat Be–har, deals with essential laws of economic justice in an agrarian society. No member of the Jewish people may be relegated to lifelong slavery or landless serfdom. Ancestral plots are not to be sold out of the family forever, but rather returned in the Jubilee year. Even though slavery is permitted, a Jewish slave must go free in the seventh year. One may not cheat another in selling or buying, nor earn a profit at the expense of one in need by charging him interest. And yet, there are troubling limits to the scope of this ethical tradition.

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Our Lives in Exile

Our Lives in Exile

May 20, 2006 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

Recently, while studying with a student, the concept of exile surfaced, and my student bristled when I nonchalantly commented that we live in a state of exile.

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Rashi’s God and Ibn Ezra’s God

Rashi’s God and Ibn Ezra’s God

May 16, 2009 By Walter Herzberg | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

I am in the midst of reading Michael Fishbane’s recently published book Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology. Especially compelling, from my perspective, is the emphasis he places on experiencing the act of biblical interpretation which “is understood to foster diverse modes of attention to textual details, which in turn cultivate correlative forms of attention to the world and divine reality” (page xi). To quote my student Rachel Isaacs (rabbinical student in my Advanced Exegesis class), “Fishbane articulates most clearly the reason why rabbinical students are engaged in the types of learning they are. Close reading [of the Torah text] is not a useless skill or a rite of passage. It forces us to have an intimate, thoughtful, and challenging relationship with the text. As a result, we acquire new revelations through the process of encountering the text as much as we do from the content itself.”

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Our Partnership with God

Our Partnership with God

May 16, 2008 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Behar

Almost a year after the twenty-fifth anniversary, with current showings on TV Land promising the version with enhanced visual effects, never-before-seen footage, and a digitally remastered soundtrack, as well as videos and DVDs for watching at home whenever you wish, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial is a part of the cinematic culture of many more people than just the moviegoers of the early 1980s.

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Raising the King’s Sons

Raising the King’s Sons

May 19, 2012 By David Levy | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

In Parashat Behukkotai, God spells out a list of blessings that will come if the Israelites will follow God’s rules. This is followed by a harrowing list of curses that will ensue if the Israelites fail in this task. Finally, at the end of chapter 26, God foretells that even after the curses, when the Israelites repent, He will remember the covenants He made with our ancestors, and will remember the land. 

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Our Relationship to God

Our Relationship to God

May 10, 2010 By Lisa Gelber | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

As I chanted this verse from the end of Parashat B’har, over and over again, in preparation for reading Torah, it suddenly occurred to me how clear the Torah is about our relationship to God as slaves. Not so many weeks ago, we focused on our enslavement in Egypt. Think back to the Passover seder, where we sang Avadim Hayinu (We Were Slaves). Not to God; rather, l’Pharaoh b’meetzrayeem (to Pharaoh in Egypt). We know the story, and can name the oppressor. So if we were slaves to Pharaoh, and then God took us out of bondage—out of the narrow places, the straits of Egypt—what are we to do with this idea of our enslavement and servitude to God?

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