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Parshat B'har-B'hukkotai


This week's double portion ends the book of Leviticus (good news for Shabbat Mom as coming up with creative visuals for all these laws takes a toll!). G-d instructs Moses that when the Israelites enter the Promised Land they must remember that even the earth must "observe a sabbath of the Lord...Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest...you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the after growth of your harvest or father the grapes of your untrimmed vines." Yet the people may eat the food that the land produces during what is called in Hebrew the "shmita" or sabbatical year (hence the Fairway-bought grapes nestled in my terrace boxwoods, see photo). B'har also details the rules surrounding the Jubilee year during which all land returns to its original owners and slaves go free. "You shall count off seven weeks of years--so that the period of seven weeks gives you a total of 49 years...(Then) you shall hallow the fiftieth year...each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family."

(Commentators note that the Jubilee ceased to be observed in Israel following the destruction of the Second Temple and the dismantling of the Sanhedrin, the highest rabbinical court.) G-d promises that if these rules are followed and if the people "do not wrong one another, but fear your G-d" then "the land shall yield its fruit and you shall eat your fill, and you shall live upon it in security." B'hukkotai outlines exactly the opposite, the suffering that will befall the Israelites if they do not heed G-d's words and honor Him. "I will go on to discipline you sevenfold for your sins and I will break your proud glory...Your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit...And you I will scatter among the nations." And that's the least of it. "...You shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters..."

And my kids think Shabbat Mom is harsh when they don't listen! Shabbat Shalom!

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