B'har: A Summary of the Parashah

God tells Moses to instruct the people in the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, as well as how to relate to those in the community who become impoverished.

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Male and female of the nations about you may become your slaves and be your property. You may treat them as slaves. But as for your Israelite brothers, no one shall be subjugated through hard labor.

If a stranger who is a settler becomes rich, and if your brother, being in trouble, gives himself over to this stranger, he shall still have the right of redemption. One of his brothers or family members shall redeem him or, if he prospers, may redeem himself. The payment for redemption will be as if he was a hired laborer until the Jubilee Year. In the Jubilee Year, even if he has not been redeemed, he and his children with him shall go free. For it is to Me that the Israelites are servants: they are My servants, whom I freed from the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

You shall not make idols for yourselves, or set up for yourselves carved images or pillars or place stones in your land to worship upon. You shall keep My Sabbaths and honor My sanctuary.

Questions for Discussion

1) Why do you think God insists that even the land have a Sabbath, a year of complete rest?

2) God commands that a brother in trouble must be treated fairly and with a respect that preserves his dignity. Think about your own dealings with your siblings. What are some ways you have helped (or could help) a family member in trouble and still preserve his or her dignity?

3) This portion describes the Jubilee Year, the 50th year, as a time of release and freedom. Is this concept of a Jubilee Year still meaningful? In what ways?

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at www.TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.