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27/28 May: Parshat Behar (HEMS and Reform)

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 8.48 pm: goes out 10.06 pm 


In Parshat Behar, we read of the rights of landowners and the legalities of the sale and mortgaging of land.  We are given the laws of the sabbatical year, when sowing and reaping of fields, and pruning and picking of vines are prohibited; although crops that grow naturally are allowed to be picked.  Every fiftieth year is the Jubilee.  In addition, all land returns to its original owners.

The Torah has set up a system against economic fraud or exploitation.  It teaches that sales of land are to be considered leases, not final sales.  In the event that someone wanted to buy out that lease, the value of the lease is a function of the number of crop years remaining until the next Jubilee.  It is not socialism, it is capitalism with limits.  When I was younger, I perhaps didn’t appreciate the need for this law — but now that I see too many examples of the rich becoming too rich and the poor becoming too poor — I better understand its wisdom.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

May 24, 2016