Torah Portion Behar-Behokotai

The latest combined Torah portion is Behar-Behokotai, Leviticus 25:1-27:34. The first, Behar (Lev. 21-24:23), has God tell Moses the standards of behavior for priests serving the Mishkan, whether they should go near the corpse to a deceased relative, who they should marry or not, and also banning from the service of the Mishkan those of the priestly class who has certain physical defects. The portion also speaks of how the food being sacrificed to the alter is to be presented, the ban on persons rendered “unclean” by a seminal discharge, the ban on lay people eating the sacrificed foods and what to do if they mistakenly do eat it, and the ban on offering deformed animals, such as those with mutilated sex organs, to the sacrifice.

Through Chapter 23, God tells Moses of the Holidays the Israelites are to celebrate for all time-Shabbat, Pesach, the Omer period from Pesach to Sukkot, and Sukkot itself. In chapter 24:17-22, we read, “One who kills a beast shall make restitution for it, life for life. If anyone maims his fellow, as he has done so shall it be dome to him: fracture for fracture, eye, for eye, tooth for tooth. The injury do inflicted on another shall be inflicted on him.” Here we have one of the most taken-out-of-context verses, supposedly justifying revenge.

In Behokotai, Leviticus 25:1-26:2, God tells Moses, “When you enter the land that I shall give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath of the LORD. Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. But in the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, a Sabbath of the LORD,” where no one may sow of tend to their vineyards-a Sabbath for the land, the Earth, where the people could eat whatever is grown during this Sabbath of the land.

Verses 25:8-17 tells of the Jubilee year, which is to come after seven times seven years, where not only there is to be no labor done on the earth, and debts are forgiven.

In Verses 25:18, in the Jubilee year, God assures that S/HE would provide produce from the land without people working it, in full faith that God will tend to their needs. All of this goes against the idea having to constantly work-work-work and have no rest; that people, along with the earth, need to balance work, which is important, with rest, which is also important.

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