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Behar - Bechukotai Chazak - Satisfation!
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

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 lives.

  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,

 Rabbi Biggs

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 http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/shavuot/default_cdo/jewish/Shavuot

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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