Parashat B'har

Sowing Seeds Of Redemption

The Jubilee year encourages us to take time to appreciate our labors and the role God plays in our lives.

Print this page Print this page

Said the Lekhivitzer Rebbe: "We read, 'And ye shall not wrong one another; but thou shalt fear thy God; for I am Adonai your God.' This means: 'Do not deceive one another by asserting that you are truly God-fearing persons'" (M. S. Kleinman, Or Yesharim, Piotrkov, 1924, translated by Louis I. Newman and republished in The Hasidic Anthology, Schocken Books, New York, 1963).

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I Adonai am your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).

"We live in an unredeemed world. But out of each human life that is unarbitrary and bound to the world, a seed of redemption falls into the world, and the harvest is God's" (Martin Buber, "Spinoza, Shabtai Zvi, and the Baal Shem Tov," The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism, Horizon Press Publishers, New York, 1960).

The land was ours before we were the land's. She was our land more than a hundred years before we were her people (Robert Frost, "The Gift Outright").

Nevermore shall you be called "Forsaken,"
Nor shall your land be called "Desolate;"
But you shall be called "I delight in her,"
And your land "Espoused."
For Adonai takes delight in you,
And your land shall be espoused.
As a youth espouses a maiden,
Your children shall espouse you;
And as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
So will your God rejoice over you

(Isaiah 62:4-5).

Do not envy a lawless man,
Or choose any of his ways;
For the devious man is an abomination to Adonai,
But God is intimate with the straightforward

(Proverbs 3:31-32).

Your Guide

How does Nehama Leibowitz's observation that the Torah seeks to protect justice and righteousness from the effects of greed relate to the reminder that the land belongs to God?

To whom does the Lekhivitzer Rebbe address the admonition "Do not deceive one another by asserting you are truly God-fearing persons"? Does he mean to suggest that no one is truly God-fearing, or is he directing his comments toward a particular kind of individual? If so, who might that be?

Compare Leviticus 19:33-34 with Leviticus 25:23. What does God mean by referring to the Israelites as "strangers?"

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Judith Ovadia is the cantor at Temple Ohev Sholom in Harrisburg, Penn.