Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Behar. The portion begins
with the words “Hashem spoke to Moshe at Mount Sinai and said
the following.” Although the entire Torah was given on Mount
Sinai, the Torah mentions the connection to Mount Sinai in a
limited number of instances. Introducing the portion by
mentioning Mount Sinai teaches that the lessons of this portion
are relevant to the entire Torah that was given on Mount Sinai.
Mitzvah that is discussed in the beginning of the portion is
Shemittah. In Israel, every seventh year is the Sabbatical year,
during which it is forbidden to perform any agricultural labor.
This year is a Shemittah year. After enumerating all of the
prohibitions, the Torah poses a question: “And if you will ask,
what will we eat in the seventh year? I will command my blessing
in the sixth year and there will be a food for three years.”
Often we wonder how we will be able to manage if we live in
accordance to the Torah. For some of us, keeping Shabbat seems
impossible. Others find other Mitzvot beyond their grasp. The
Torah is teaching us that we must give ourselves over into the
hands of Hashem. For Hashem, the bounds of nature pose no
challenge. He can give a blessing by which minimal efforts
produce miraculous results. This faith is the foundation of the
Commentaries explain that the purpose of the Sabbatical year was
to dedicate more time to Torah study. This is alluded to in the
introductory verse that Hashem said this on Mount Sinai. The
purpose of the Exodus was to receive the Torah. The entry into
the land of Israel was a continuation of that goal, fusing the
Land and the Torah. Hashem gave us the Sabbatical year to give
us strength and direction for the other seven years. This is
alluded to in the interesting order of the verses. The Torah
says that when you shall enter the land… the land shall rest.
Six years you shall sow… and in the seventh year shall be a
Sabbatical. Why does the Torah mention the Sabbatical before the
six years of work? The immersion in Torah is the guiding force
of the six years of work. For those of us not engaged in
agriculture and outside of Israel, the same lesson applies every
Shabbat and every day. Shabbat is a time to learn and gain
inspiration and direction for the week. Each day should begin
with Torah study to guide the day. This will result in the same
triple Bracha as keeping Shemittah.
Another Mitzvah that is discussed in the portion is Yovel, the
jubilee year. Every fiftieth year was the Yovel, which was a
sabbatical year during which all slaves were freed and all
properties were returned to their original owners. The Yovel
teaches us that everything in this world belongs to Hashem and
we are only using it with His permission. A deeper lesson from
Yovel is that since everything belongs to Hashem, even if
currently things are bleak, and someone was forced to lose his
properties, or even enter slavery, this is only temporary. The
Yovel will arrive and he will be freed, and his inherited
properties retained. Each Jew was freed from bondage at the time
of the giving of the Torah. Further, the entire Torah is his
inheritance. Sometimes, someone can be enslaved by negative
influences, and lose access to his inheritance, the Torah. Yovel
teaches us that in truth, he is free, and can always redeem
himself. If he doesn’t redeem himself, the time will come when
Hashem will free him. Furthermore, his inheritance, The Torah,
is always his and can be claimed at any time.
Yovel parallels the coming of Moshiach, when Hashem will break
the bondage of our negative side and reveal the true depths of
our inheritance, the Torah. May we rejoice in Moshiach’s coming
in these days of the preparation for Shavuot.
In memory of Reb Dovid Ben Yaakov Yosef Raskin
May his soul rise from height to height
Pesach Sheini-Never Too Late
This Wednesday (May 18th) is Pesach Sheini, the
second Pesach. We do not say Tachanun on Pesach Sheini. It is
customary to eat a piece of Matzah. After the Jewish people
built the Tabernacle in the desert, Hashem commanded them to
bring the Pesach sacrifice. A group of Jews came to Moshe with a
complaint. “We are impure, and therefore we cannot bring the
Pesach offering. Why should we be excluded from offering
Hashem’s sacrifice in the appropriate time?” Moshe responded
that he would ask Hashem. Hashem responded that if someone was
impure of far away at the time of Pesach, a month later they
could bring the Passover sacrifice and it was to be eaten with
Matzah and bitter herbs the following night.
story has a powerful lesson. Pesach Sheini teaches us that we
are never lost. The Torah uses two terms; impure and distant.
The Torah adds the term Lachem, which means of your own
volition. Sometimes we feel as though we have defiled ourselves,
and Hashem will no longer accept us. Sometimes we fell estranged
and ignorant of Judaism. The Mitzvah of Pesach Sheini teaches us
that however distant and impure we are, and whatever the cause
is, Hashem wants us to participate in Judaism and creates a
second chance for us.
Another poignant lesson is in our attitude to Mitzvot. Some
people seek to absolve himself from Mitzvot. If they must, they
will do a Mitzvah, but if they can get out of it, great! This
leads to constantly seeking leniencies (heterim) rather than
doing Mitzvot the proper way. This is the antithesis of love for
Hashem. If we love Hashem, any opportunity to come closer to Him
becomes our goal. If there is a Mitzvah to be done, we must seek
with our whole hearts to participate. This is exemplified by the
Jews who asked to be included in the Pesach offering. According
to Halacha, they were Patur (exempt) from Pesach. Rather than
taking the easy way, they begged to be included.
This teaching amplifies our yearning for Moshiach. Most of the
Mitzvot cannot be performed today, either because they are
connected to the Temple or they apply in Israel when the entire
Jewish are there. We are missing out! Other generations
witnessed the glory of Hashem’s revelation and the miracles in
the Temple. We are missing out! We are in the imminent throes of
Moshiach’s coming. We must whole heatedly cry out to Hashem “Why
should we be excluded!” Just as Hashem answered then, He will
surely answer us now!!
Dedicated to David Burman on the occasion of his birthday. May
Hashem grant him a successful and blessed year.
project of Chabad of Great Neck
East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
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