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   by Jacob Solomon

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PARASHAT (BEHAR) - BECHUKOTAI 5773: D'VAR TORAH


One of the main themes of both parashiot is "geula".

The word geula occurs many times in the Torah. Loosely translated as redemption, it may be well incorporate something deeper than that. It can mean restoring and developing something and putting it to its best and most authentic use. That 'something' may be a person or an object.

For example, a genuine educator is not just a mere purveyor of a body of facts and figures. He or she interacts with the students so that what they learn enriches them as people. That means that the student is guided in assimilating concepts and skills into a deeper way of appreciating what's going in his or her environment, whether it's understanding the prayers in synagogue, making sense of the ups and downs of the international business cycle, or learning the causes and how to come to terms with people's biases and prejudices.

The educator has provided the framework for the student to develop higher thinking skills: assimilative, evaluative, and ultimately creative. That is redemption. It has freed what has been locked up, and enables the student to access and develop the higher mental faculties for both personal enrichment and society's enrichment.

Thus when G-d told Moses: "I will redeem (ve-ga-alti) you with an outstretched arm" (Ex. 6:6), it means that the Israelites will lose the slave mentality (however comfortable), and learn the higher skills of taking initiative and responsibility - with the ultimate objective of being a light to the nations - under the guidelines of G-d's revealed law - the Torah.

The same applies to objects and the way that they relate to people. "There shall always be redemption for all the land that is your ancestral heritage" (25:24). Under Moses and later Joshua, all Israelite tribes received their own section of the Promised Land which passed from generation to generation. Generally, it was permitted to sell land, but only on such a basis that it would return in the 49th year to the original owners. Prices of land would be fixed on the basis of the purchaser being a leaseholder (25:16 ff). The reason is that each family has a portion in the Holy Land and each parcel of land reaches its highest destiny by serving the family it was intended for.

Similarly in Bechukotai: "If a person consecrates his house to be holy to G-d, the priest shall evaluate itů and if the person who consecrated it redeems it, he shall add a fifth of its value and is shall be his" (27:14-15). That house was for the purpose of the individual and may well reach its true purpose by serving that individual. Therefore in redeeming it, it is being restored to its true purpose in the Creation.

This is the meaning of the words are said before the morning Amidah prayer: "Redeem us". We ask G-d to enable us as a people to be in position that we can reach our very greatest potential, both as a people and as fully-developed human beings.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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