Why Do Jews Still Adhere to the Torah’s Covenant?

Why Do Jews Still Adhere to the Torah’s Covenant?

May 7, 2021 By Jeremy Tabick | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

Why do we, as Jews, have fealty to the Torah? Why do many of us feel bound by the Torah’s laws?

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The Nature of Peace

The Nature of Peace

May 15, 2020 By Walter Herzberg | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

The description of peace and prosperity in this week’s Torah portion seems particularly fitting for our current situation.

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Remember the Land

Remember the Land

May 31, 2019 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Behukkotai

Spring is my favorite season because it draws me outdoors, enticing me to leave the city and enjoy the rivers, fields, and mountains of this glorious earth. Even near the city I often find myself in nature, biking along the Hudson and up the Palisades past waterfalls and nesting eagles. Returning to the land reminds me of the many blessings of our world, filling me with gratitude and awe. It also causes foreboding since the signs of stress on the natural systems that make our lives possible are everywhere evident. While this era of anthropogenic climate change may be new, the concern that human conduct could lead to ruin and exile from the earth is found already in our Torah portion.

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The Theology of Meteorology

The Theology of Meteorology

May 11, 2018 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

Imagine if your weather app displayed not images of sun and clouds, but icons of good and evil, like this:  ☹. Each city might have a virtue index—with the weather forecast tracking not the jet stream but morality, indicated by a friendly or fierce face. City X has been charitable, so they can expect light rains followed by sunny skies, but City Y has seen an uptick in violent crime, so it is in for a drought or hurricane. Such a system sounds absurd, and yet it is basically what the Torah presents as a theology of weather.

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The Limitations of Ownership

The Limitations of Ownership

May 19, 2017 By Yedida Eisenstat | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

Rashi, the well-known medieval northern French biblical commentator, begins his commentary on this week’s parashah with a famous question, loosely paraphrased as follows: In what way does the matter of shemittah [the sabbatical year] have anything to do with Mount Sinai? In other words, the laws of Leviticus 25—beginning with the agricultural restrictions of the seventh year, the regulations regarding the jubilee year, limitations on sale of land and slaves—are wholly dependent on Israel living in Israel. So why, Rashi asks, were these laws commanded so long before they would become relevant? Of what relevance are the laws of shemittah to the Israelites at Sinai?

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בהר סיני (“At Mount Sinai”)

בהר סיני (“At Mount Sinai”)

May 19, 2017 By Louis Polisson | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

At Mount Sinai
We chose Her
And what did She say?

Declare liberty for boy and girl
There shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land
A Sabbath
For Being

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Making Space for New Grain

Making Space for New Grain

Jun 4, 2016 By Ofra Backenroth | Commentary | Behukkotai

Naomi Shemer, one of the most famous songwriters and performers in Israel, is known for her thoughtful songs that touch upon universal themes. In this song, she speaks about the need for rejuvenation. Every morning is an opportunity for a new experience. As successful as our days might be, there is always a need to go back to the beginning and start again.

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Behukkotai’s Challenge to Us

Behukkotai’s Challenge to Us

Jun 4, 2016 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Behukkotai

Blessing comes to fruition through journey. The journey may be as simple as lighting Shabbat candles or it may be as complicated as leaving the comfort of one’s home to discover new worlds. Either way, that which is familiar is left behind, and a new reality challenges one to grow and thus to earn God’s blessing. Such is the challenge of this week’s parashah.

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Man’s Plans vs. God’s Plans

Man’s Plans vs. God’s Plans

May 20, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Behukkotai

I have such good intentions when I start off my day or my week.

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Our Role in Creation and Revelation

Our Role in Creation and Revelation

May 20, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Behar | Behukkotai

Parashat Behar–Be–hukkotai opens curiously enough on Mount Sinai — curiously given the law promulgated at the beginning of the Torah reading. There, at the introduction to this parashah, we find the detailed laws related to sh’mitah, the sabbatical year, as well as the yovel, the jubilee year. While sh’mitah involves a seven–year cycle of letting the land lie fallow and the remission of loans, the yovel reflects a fifty–year cycle involving the emancipation of slaves and the return of property to their original owners.

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