This week’s Torah portion is a double portion and continuing in the format used for other double portions the Dvar for this week will follow the split 7 inch record format where each chapter gets its own track. So here you have it folks Circle Pit The Bimah Split EP Vol. 4.
Parsha Behar (Leviticus 21:1 – 26:2)
1. Dominion, There Comes A Time. . .
Behar discusses how Hashem wants the land of His creation to be cultivated and managed. The first part in this week’s double portion establishes rules for farming and land “ownership.” Just beneath the surface a deeper current is flowing and that is the inevitable time when we must recognize our role and place in this world. The classless and environmental sustainability commandments for land management are given to a nomadic people before entering Zion as a lesson in self realization. We all must come to terms with where we as an individual are as a person and as part of a people. We can only grow closer to being a more complete Jew and selflessly performing Tikun Olam by accepting that there is a time when we must recognize the role we play in our families, our communities, and within Hashem’s creation. There may be times in our lives when we flourish financially and other times when we struggle just to survive on the most bare subsistence level, we are created beings living in a created world that has existed for a very long time. Hashem may have granted us the privilege of Dominion but we remain created in a way where we cannot live without each part of creation playing its unique role. The time for that realization and awakening is now.
Parsha Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34)
1. Heads or Tails
Bechukotai is a dire warning from Hashem. If you are anything like me you have noticed that Leviticus is like watching a coin flipping its way up and then down before reaching its final resting place in your hand. No more is this true than in the final chapters of Torah’s third book. The beginning chapter of this week’s second portion deals with cause and effect. Hashem stresses the importance of living a righteous and loving life the reward if you do so is prosperity and happiness, but if you do not the flood gates of despair will open. In just one chapter the key to what everyone wants (good health, a safe home, a clean environment, and family) is given juxtaposed against the punishments for not keeping the commandments (famine, disease, violent death, and cannibalism). Levitical law is something many detractors use to argue against organized religion and that’s easy to do when you only look at every other chapter or in other words just one side of the coin.
2. Taxation Without Representation
Leviticus ends in a way that seems almost anti climatic. Bechukotai ends with of all things tax code related. Almost as a reminding nod towards commandment keeping and what will befall the Jewish people for not heading Hashem’s ideal for a perfect Jewish life, Torah’s third book ends with who must provide what for each offering.
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah