Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read two portions, Behar and Bechukotai. We also
conclude the book of Vayikra and begin reading the book of
Bamidbar. The Shabbat when we conclude a book of the Torah is
called Shabbat Chazak, Shabbat of strength, because concluding a
book of Torah and beginning a new one brings strength and
blessing. It is appropriate to gather on Shabbat Chazak and
share words of Torah, encouragement and blessing.
The portion of Behar begins with the words “Hashem spoke to
Moshe at Mount Sinai” and the portion of Bechukotai ends “These
are the Mitzvot which Hashem commanded Moshe transmit to the
Children of Israel at Mount Sinai.” Although the entire Torah
was given on Mount Sinai, the Torah mentions Mount Sinai in a
limited number of instances. From the fact that in both portions
it is mentioned that these are from Mount Sinai, we can infer
that the teaching of these Mitzvot include general directions in
fulfilling the Torah and it is apropos that we read them in the
weeks immediately preceding Shavuot, the giving of the Torah.
The beginning of the portion Behar discusses Shemittah, the
Sabbatical year. In Israel, every seventh year is Shemittah,
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 teaches us that our sustenance comes only from Hashem. Of
course we must do our part, but it is Hashem’s Bracha that
brings success. We must place ourselves in Hashem’s hands.
Hashem is not bound by the laws of nature; He can give a
blessing by which minimal efforts produce miraculous results.
This is echoed in the beginning of Bechukotai. The Torah assures
that if we toil in Torah studies and fulfill Hashem’s
commandments diligently, Hashem will grant that the rains will
come in a timely manner, the crops will be abundant, there will
be peace in the land and freedom from fear. The Torah is
teaching us that the time spent serving Hashem will be replaced
by smoothness in our business efforts and that by dedicating our
minds and hearts fully when we study and pray (hence the term
toil in Torah studies) Hashem will free us from stresses in our
One of the blessings enumerated is you will eat and you will be
satiated. When we are imbued with the values of the Torah, we
learn to be satiated. We appreciate whatever Hashem has given us
and are freed of the insecurity caused by jealousy. Without the
blessing of satiation, whatever Hashem gives us we will feel
that we are lacking.
Another Mitzvah that is discussed in both portions is Yovel, the
jubilee year. Every fiftieth year was the Yovel, which was a
sabbatical year during which all Hebrew 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.
The 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 his
coming in these days of the preparation for Shavuot and receive
the new depths in Torah that only Moshiach can reveal.
Shabbat Shalom and renewed strength,
Sunday, May 24th is Shavuot, when we received the
Torah on Mount Sinai. The Rebbe has stressed numerous times that
just as when the Torah was given everyone was present, Shavuot
morning every man, woman, and child should be present in order
to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. This will bring
Hashem’s blessings to all of those who attend and His protection
to the nation of Israel.
There is an excellent Shavuot website at
Dedicated in merit of Yonatan Simcha Raynor in honor of his Bar
Mitzvah. May he be imbued with a true love and reverence for
Hashem, His Torah and Mitzvot, His people and His land. My his
family and community always have Nachat and pride from him and
may he rise as a Torah leader.
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