After several chapters about purity and the sacrificial system, our Torah portion “Behar”, feels it necessary to refer back once again to the time of the revelation of the Torah. This chapter appears as if it is an afterthought, something that Moses had neglected to mention until now.
I am saying this due to the sheer fact that we have read the last few weeks more or less nothing else than how to do sacrifices or to maintain holiness. In Leviticus Chapter 25 we are still in the early days of what is to become a forty-year odyssey through the wilderness. The Israelites are still a disorganised rabble, they have no land, no crops, no harvests – they have no need for any Sabbatical years, or a Jubilee year, as well.
However, right there, we are switched abruptly back to the top of Sinai, receiving instructions that seems to be out of context: ”When you come into the land which I will give you….”
Suddenly we are thinking long-term, strategically, we are thinking in terms of land and vineyards and fields and orchards, we are thinking in half-centuries and what to do to correct any imbalances in land-ownership that may develop. We receive a wonderful vision of a society based on checks and balances and respect for the mortality of man and the shortness of human ownership and the eternity of a Covenant and a God. So – why is it necessary to state suddenly that these laws were given on Mount Sinai? – It is as though the Torah text, having got distracted into allowing itself to muse upon the problems of skin diseases and issued decrees concerning the moral duties incumbent upon all to care for and ‘love’ the blind, the crippled, the deaf, the poor, the stranger –
suddenly has to pull itself together and return to the mode of ”As I was saying……”.
Having dealt with some inconvenient and rather messy incidents in the present, the Torah can now look again to the future – the presumed future, the presumed imminent future. Sounds for me as a General Election just passed and now everyone can concentrate to build together on a joined future. Don’t you think so?
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: Rabbi Dr Walter Rothschild)
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