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Bechukotai Summaries

Behar-Bechukotai 5778-2018

“Torah From Sinai”

The revolutionary laws of Shemitah, of allowing the land to lie fallow every seven years, is a prominent example of laws that confirm the existence of G-d and the divinity of the Torah.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5777-2017

“If Your Brother Becomes Impoverished”

The mitzvah to redeem the land of a fellow Jew who has become impoverished has an important metaphoric message for contemporary times.

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Bechukotai 5776-2016

“The Tochaycha–G-d’s Daunting Reproof of Israel”

The Tochaycha repeats the dire prediction that G-d will punish those who fail to abide by the Torah “sevenfold for their sins.” The Midrash maintains that there is a seven-step process for those who abandon the Al-mighty and walk away from Jewish life.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5775-2015

“The Odd Conclusion to the Book of Leviticus”

Rabbi Dr. Hayyim Angel asks why the book of Leviticus ends with the Tochacha, G-d’s fearsome reproof of the Jewish people, and is followed by a series of instructions regarding the redemption of vows and tithes.

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Bechukotai 5774-2014

“The Role of Exile in Jewish Theology”

What is the purpose of exile and what role does exile play in Jewish history?

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Behar-Bechukotai 5773-2013

“The Value of a Woman”

As one would expect, in parashat Bechukotai, there is much discussion and controversy regarding the concept of valuing human beings, especially concerning the lower level at which women are valued.

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Bechukotai 5771-2011

“Peace–The Greatest of All Blessings”

G-d’s reproof of the Jewish people always begins with abundant blessings. The series of blessings that precede the reproof in parashat Bechukotai conclude with perhaps the most exalted of all blessings–-the blessing of peace.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5770-2010

“Making a Reckoning”

How does the Torah regard the rights and property of non-Jews? In parashat Behar we learn of a remarkable law that protects the rights of a non-Jew even in a situation where the welfare and security of a Jew might be thought to override those rights.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5769-2009

“Impoverishment: In those Days, in these Times”

In parashat Behar, the poor person is described on several occasions as “mach,” crushed. Judaism’s remarkable laws regarding charity not only address the material losses of an impoverished person, but also attempt to heal the emotional losses of those who have lost their life’s possessions.

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Bechukotai 5768-2008

“The Double-Edged Sword”

There are two faces to peace and two faces to the sword. Sometimes peace prevails because of internal brotherly love. At other times, peace is imposed from the outside. When people live in harmony with one another then the sword is an instrument of death. However, when people cannot live in peace with one another, then external threats of the sword can be a blessing that brings unity to the people.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5767-2007

“Reward and Punishment”

Parashat Bechukotai speaks of the rewards and punishments that the People of Israel will merit or suffer for adhering or not adhering to G-d’s word. The commentators ask why there seems to be an emphasis on only material rewards like rain and peace, rather than spiritual rewards such as coming close to G-d. How does Divine accountability operate?

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Behar-Bechukotai 5766-2006

“The Economics of Torah”

In parashat Bechukotai we learn of the obligation to bring the Second Tithes as well as Animal Tithes to Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Since Jerusalem served as the center of Jewish religious and educational life, it needed to be properly supported. It was also the Torah’s way of engaging farmers, from distant communities, in the study of Torah when they visited Jerusalem to bring their tithes.

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Bechukotai 5765-2005

“Achieving Peace and Security for the Jewish People”

Parashat Bechukotai pronounces the ultimate formula for achieving peace for the Jewish people. G-d declares: “Im bechukotai tay’lay’choo,” if the Jewish people wish to attain peace and ultimate blessing, they must follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them. Security is a factor of the Jewish people’s relationship with G-d.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5764-2004

“The Revolutionary Nature of Shemita and Yovel

The first of the double portions, Behar, highlights the practice of Shemita–the Sabbatical year, and Yovel, the Jubilee celebration. These revolutionary ideas, from over 3300 years ago, were light-years ahead of their time, guaranteeing rest and rehabilitation for both people and land. Once again, the Torah shows its understanding for the critical need for universal education and the necessity for sacred time for family and for study, as well as the far-sighted vision of a system that provided for a more equitable distribution of wealth among all the inhabitants of the land.

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Bechukotai 5763-2003

Ma’aser Shay’nee, the Second Tithe”

From their earliest days of nationhood, the Jewish people understood that Jewish education was to be the peoples’ foremost concern and should be their primary charitable priority. The donations of Ma’aser Shay’nee, the second tithe, were to be used or redeemed in Jerusalem, which served as a spiritual center and educational hub of Israel-in effect affirming the primacy of Jewish education.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5762-2002

“The Extraordinary Mitzvah of Tzedaka, Charity”

The word tzedaka that we mention in Parashat Behar does not mean charity, but rather justice and righteousness. It is not an act of charity to be generous, it is the correct thing to do.

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Behar-Bechukotai 5761-2001

“Setting a New Standard of Ethics”

We’ve reached a point in society where even simple acts of kindness or honesty are considered extraordinary. As we learn in Parashat Behar. It is the Torah’s wish to transform such actions into the ordinary. Judaism sets very high standards–it aims for Utopia.

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Bechukotai 5760-2000

“The Big ‘If’: Reflection of Free Choice”

The little word “im“–“if,” that begins the verse, “If you follow my decrees” is a critical word for all of humankind. It implies that all human beings have a very special gift from G-d– freedom to choose. Our Torah does not speak of predestination, it speaks of choice. Even the Hebrew word “Emunah,” faith, begins in Hebrew with the same letters as im, implying choice.

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