Parshat Behar Summary

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Parshat Behar is the 9th parsha in Sefer Vayikra (also known as Leviticus).

This parsha is verses Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2, or a total of 57 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Parshat Behar is often combined with Parshat Bechukotai.

Aliyah 1: Leviticus 25:1 – 25:13, 13 verses

God commands Moses to teach the Jewish people about the Sabbatical Year (usually called Shemittah). Shemittah is to be observed in the Land of Israel.

For six years the Jewish people are permitted to farm the land. The seventh year is a year of rest for the land.

We are to count seven sets of seven years, a total of 49 years. Then the 50th year is the Jubilee Year (in Hebrew, Yovel).

On Yom Kippur (the 10th day of the 7th month) of the Yovel year, the shofar is blown. Yovel is similar to Shemittah as a year of rest for the land.

Aliyah 2: Leviticus 25:14 – 25:18, 5 verses

Fields in the Land of Israel are only sold until the Yovel year. Therefore, the price of the land is based on how many years remain until Yovel.

It is forbidden to harm another person either in business dealings or personal interactions.

Aliyah 3: Leviticus 25:19 – 25:24, 6 verses

God promises the Jewish people that they will not lack due to observing the Shemittah year. He will bless the crops of the 6th year. That harvest will be sufficient to last until the harvest after Shemittah.

The land is not to be sold forever.

Aliyah 4: Leviticus 25:25 – 25:28, 4 verses

People should sell their land only if they becomes poor. The sold land may be repurchased by the seller if his financial situation improves. The land returns to the original owner in the Jubilee Year.

Aliyah 5: Leviticus 25:29 – 25:38, 10 verses

A house in a walled city may be sold. The seller may repurchase the house during the year after the sale. If he does not repurchase it, it become the permanent possession of the buyer.

A house in a town without a wall may be sold. The seller may repurchase the house at any time. If he does not repurchase it, it automatically returns to him in the Yovel Year.

Houses in the Levitical cities may be sold. The Levite who sold the house may repurchase it at any time. If the Levite does not repurchase it, it automatically returns to him in the Yovel Year.

We may lend money to another Jew but may not charge any interest on the loan.

Aliyah 6: Leviticus 25:39 – 25:46, 8 verses

A Jew in financial distress may “sell” himself as a slave to another Jew. The “owner” is required to treat him with respect. He is released from his servitude in the Yovel Year.

It is permitted to purchase a non-Jew as a slave. These slaves do not go free in the Yovel Year.

Aliyah 7: Leviticus 25:47 – 26:2, 11 verses

It may happen that a Jew becomes a slave to a non-Jew. It is then the obligation of his relatives to redeem him from the non-Jew.

The parsha ends with a commandment not to make idols for ourselves. We are reminded to observe Shabbat and to treat the Temple with respect. This also applies to other structures dedicated to Jewish observance.

Haftarah Summary

Jeremiah 32:6 – 27

Jeremiah is instructed by God to purchase a field that his cousin is selling. He prays to God and recounts God’s greatness and all He has done for the Jewish people. Jeremiah wonders why he should buy a field when God has said the Jews will be exiled from the land.

The last verse of the haftarah hints that God understands what He is doing. In the following verses that are not included in the haftarah, God assures Jeremiah that the Jewish people will return to the Land of Israel.

Further Reading

Here is another article based on Parshat Behar: Money and Words

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