|Week of May 8, 2011 Shabbat Behar,Iyar 10, 5771|
This week the Parasha of Behar בהר is read. Behar means "in, or on, or from a (the) mountain" depending on the vowel under the letter Beit. It is truly interesting to note and to ask the following: The Masoretic text which is the vowels (nikud in Hebrew - which means the dots and lines that make the sound of vowels in English) we use as the standard reading of the Torah shows us that this is translated as "in or on a mountain". Yet the assumption and teaching is that this mountain is Mt Sinai. Why is this mountain (Mt Sinai not called "The mountain")? After all it is a unique mountain chosen for the revelation of the Esser Debrot (10 Utterances) and the Torah.
Also, please note that the Torah will refer to the location of Mt Sinai as the desert of Sinai in two weeks during the portion of Bamidbar.
The answer to the first question above is it is up to your consciousness. Do you understand that Mt Sinai can be any mountain or is it a special mountain to you. Is the Torah special to you and that specialness is passed to the location of its giving? or othewise? Or perhaps the location of the giving of the Torah is special, totally independent, of the Holiness of the Torah?
We will discuss the difference between a mountain and a desert in the Parasha of Bamidbar in two weeks time.
Here is a link for a cartoon summary of the Parasha. We hope you enjoy it.
Vayikra - Leviticus Chapter 25 Verse 1 to Chapter 26 Verse 2. There are 57 Verses which, by gematria, is the word Zon זן. This word means nourish, feed, sustain, or maintain. This also is one of the essences of the Parasha. Sustenance or Parnassa which is material wealth. It also becomes clear when we read the first subject in the Parasha is the shmitta year. We will discuss this more below.
The code words from the Sages are חטיל and לאחוזה. The first word is translated as "My Teacher's incisor" and the second means "from a plantation" or "from an estate". One can see that both these words relate to sustenance and material wealth.
There are 737 תשלז words in the Parasha. This can also be expressed as לזן. The first word can be translated as "fallen Zion or fallen 7". The second word has the meaning of "teach how to sustain". How does one sustain oneself? There is a teaching about Rosh Hashana. On Rosh Hashana the amount of money one receives during the year for his sustenance is established. It does not matter how hard some one works, he will not receive more than what is allocated to him for the year. This statement is hard for people connected to physicality to learn. Yet those who learn this truth are the more serene individuals. Who do you want to be?
Maftir:Chapter 25 Verse 55 and Chapter 26 Verse 1 and 2. There are 3 verses and 1 space. We have discussed the meaning of 3 and 1 in prior emails.
Spaces: There are 7 spaces in the Parasha. 7 relates to the lower sephirot and also connects us to the physical world which has seven continents, 7 seas, 7 colors in the rainbow, 7 notes in music, and 7 days of the week. And many other 7's in the physical world. What is the cause of all these 7's? I know it is hard to understand and there is not enough space in this email to truly explain the following statement. Unity is created when the upper 3 sephirot of the left column (the desire to receive) is removed. In our physical world we see seperation and yet the lack of the upper 3 sephirot in the physical world is the potential for unity. This is our spiritual work - to create unity.
The Haftara is the same for the Sephardim and Ashkenazim. It is read from Jeremiah Chapter 32 Verses 6 to 27 which is a total of 21 verses with 3 spaces. As we have discussed in the past 21 is the Gematria of Ehyeh which translates as I Am and 3 relates to the 3 columns of the Tree of Life. The Chabad organization leaves the last verse off of the reading, which leaves 20 verses only. It is very unusual for Chabad to change a Minhag about Haftara readings. They will either follow the Sephardic or sometimes the Ashkenazaic Minhag but it is truly rare for them to have thier own Minhag. I do not know why they do this.
Written and Spoken Verses:
There is 1 word in both the Haftara and the Parasha that is written and spoken differently. In the Parasha it is in Chapter 25 Verse 31, the word is Lo written לא (No or Not) while spoken לו (him). The verse is speaking about the redemption of land purchased in a walled city. The Torah teaches that if the land in a walled city is not redeemed during the first year it does not return to him (the original owner) in the Yovel or Jubilee year. This verse is a good example how the Torah uses less letters to get across its point. The Torah verse is saying the land does not return to him. It expresses this in writing by saying "it does not return". When the reader says "to him" the Torah gets its full message across to people without additional written letters.
The Haftara, in Chapter 32 Verse 23, has the word written ובתרותך while spoken ובתורתך. Both words mean the same thing, which is "and in your teachings". By changing the location of the Vav it shows that the Prophet does not want the Torah to be considered in this negative way that the Children of Israel did not follow the Torah properly. If one looks at the spoken word, one sees the word Torat which is the feminine form of Torah. By changing the location of the Vav we hold up the "honor of the Torah".
Large or Small Letters: There are no large or small letters in the Haftara or the Parasha.
Columns: All columns start with a Vav.
There are 1 full columns and 2 partial columns.
As promised, this year i will give some insights into the Haftarot.
The Haftara, on the physical level can be understood as how it relates to the Parasha. Parasha Behar relates to the purchase and redemption of the land as well as the idea of the Shemita and Yovel year. The verses from the Haftara relate to a redemption of the land by the Prophet Jeremiah. He received a prophecy that his blood relative would be coming to see him about redeeming his property as the Torah law requires. This redemption procedure is described in Parasha Behar.
Yet this Haftara is taken out of context. When one knows the context one makes the statement "This does not make sense". Let me explain the context. This is 2 years before the destruction of the First Temple. Jeremiah the Navi is in the Kings Jail for prophesying of the coming destruction and the King being taken captive and delivered to Babylon. Given this knowledge (that the city will be destroyed) of the Navi (Prophet) "Why would he redeem his relatives land?" and more importantly, "Why does God want him to redeem this land"? I will answer these questions and explain the spiritual connection of this Haftara to the Parasha below.
The Parasha is discussing physical sustenance. It actually discusses Agricultural sustenance which in Temple times means physical sustenance. The idea of Shemitta and Yovel goes counter to human intuition and practice. In actuality it is counter to mans common sense. Every farmer knows he must rest the land or cycle his crops so that he does not deplete the land of its nourishment. Yet the Torah is saying do not worry; you do not have to cycle the crops; the Land of Israel will provide for you sufficient crops in the 6th year of the shemitta cycle so that you do not have to worry about your sustenance and can study Torah while the land lies fallow. Of course this does not make sense and yet there are many modern day stories even a few from the last Shemitta year 5768 where this was proven to be true.
Here is just one of these stories. A secular Israeli farmer decided to follow the Shemita year. His crop was an unusual one with a steady market. He had an abundant crop in the year before the Shemitta year. He decided to hold back part of that crop from market. Yet there was a famine in his competitors crops and he was "forced" to sell his abundant crop at the higher market prices due to the famine. It turned out he made 3 years profit.
This is the same issue and lesson from the Haftara. When one follows the Torah one does not have to worry about ones physical sustenance. I know this statement is hard to believe and even harder to follow in our modern society. Yet the Torah teaches us repeatedly that our sustenance comes from our connection to the Creator. One of the places we learn this from the Midrash about Jacob who only sent his sons to Egypt to avoid the Loshon Harah of his neighbors because he had enough food from his crops and wealth but his neighbors did not.
I am going to repeat the essence of Parasha because it needs to be constantly repeated.
Our sustenance comes from the Creator. Not from our own hard work. Learn this lesson well. Do you think you work for your paycheck? Do you think that when you are paid by your employer on percentage or a set hourly, weekly, or monthly wage that it is determined by the agreement between you and your employer? It is not. It is determined on Rosh Hashana and confirmed on Yom Kippur.
There are many stores that have employees that have nothing to do the whole 8 hours of work except the last hour when the 1 customer of the day comes in and spends more than the stores average daily sales. Is this a miracle? Not really. It is an enlightened employer who lets his employees study Torah knowing that his profit comes from their Torah Study.
My personal Parnassa comes from donations, people make to me, due to their appreciation of the classes i teach, these emails, and the website www.yeshshem.com which has recording of my classes and information about their Tikune. These donations are used primarily to develop the website with additional information. All of these donations occur because HaShem directs people to make these donations. Actually these donations are caused by my Torah study!
Where does your Parnassa come from? Do you have a desire to earn more money? Do not work harder. Study more Torah and watch the spiritual system work. This is one of the lessons of Parasha Behar.
There is another spiritual lesson taught in the Parasha of Behar. There is Verse 25:20 which actually says "if you will question what you will eat" (after you do not plant crops). This verse teaches us to question God. Actually it is our obligation to question God. Questions are the only path to understand Torah and to grow spiritually.
God wanted the Prophet Jeremiah to redeem the land of his relative even though the land was going to be conquered and the redeeming of this land seems to be a waste of resources. After the destruction of the Temple and the exile to Babylonia for 70 years, the land also was in exile for 70 years. Without Jewish people living on the Land, following Torah law, the land goes into exile as well. This means that it lies fallow, just as the description of the land written by the philanthropist Montefiore. When touring the land he described the land as a wasteland where nothing seemed to grow.
What is cause? What is effect? Determining this is part of our spiritual work. The land of Israel is called a Land of Milk and Honey in the Torah. This is only truly manifested when there are Jewish people in the Land following the directions of the Torah.
Why did God give us the Mitzvah of Shemitta and Yovel? Just as this action redeems the land and allows it to rejuvenate itself these Mitzvot show us that we will also be redeemed.
God directs us to have a Shemitta year. In our modern world it is called a Sabbatical. It usually only applies to teachers and employees of non profit organizations. The idea is that the teacher enhances their teaching by being away from students for a year traveling and studying.
It also will work in your life. Try it. Start to study Torah and keep in mind that you plan to take a Shemitta year and a Yovel year and not do physical work but only study Torah during those years. See what happens to your Parnassah in the 6th year of your cycle! Remember the Torah teaches that Hashem will provide abundant crops in the 6th year so that you will have food to eat in the seventh.
You will be provided Parnassah even if you can not see the physical source right now!
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Announcement 3: This is a weekly e-letter about the Parasha. Sometimes there will be all of the links - sometimes due to time limitations there will not be be all of the links.
One of the main purposes of the Mitzvah of Hearing the Torah on Shabbat Morning is to receive the Metaphysical Energy we will need during the next week. Please strive to hear the Torah Reading each week for this benefit.
Chanoch Ben Yaacov
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