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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Behar

Parashat Behar

The Land will be in our Possession

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The ideas of eretz (the Land) and achuza (possession; inherited property) in this week's Parasha remind us of the sanctity of Eretz Israel. Included among Behar's mitzvot ha-teluyot ba’aretz (commandments dependent on the Land), are several regarding shemittah and yovel. Our keeping these mitzvot will result in God's blessing us "in the sixth year, and [the land] will yield produce for the three years" (see 25:21-22).

Other conditions and blessings that seem very apropos to our present situation are (vv. 18-19): "You shall carry out My statutes and keep My laws and practice them, and you will [then] live securely in the land. The land will produce its fruit, and you will live there securely." The Ketav Sofer explains the repetition of "lavetach" - securely: The Torah refers here to two types of anxiety: 1) unrest, and 2) insecurity. The first is due to a scarcity of food, when "the land does not yield its crop." This may lead to problems, such as stinginess, strife and theft. The second is due to a threat from neighboring countries, caused by enemies who covet our blessed land and want to possess it. We may have plenty of rain, a rich harvest, a booming economy - but still feel insecure. Keeping God's laws and statutes will bring us security in both senses.

Shemittah is mentioned at Har Sinai, says the Ketav Sofer, to remind us of the importance of Israel's unity, as it is written: "Israel [in the singular] camped there facing the mountain." What better way is there to show love for our fellow than to renunciate ownership of our produce during Shemittah!

May our love for each other, our dedication to Eretz Israel, and our faith and trust in God -- by observing Shabbat, shemittah, and the other "laws and statutes" -- result in our houses in the Land remaining in our possession (25:30) litzmitut, permanently, and may we and our children live in them securely.

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