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3/4 June: Parshat Bechukotai

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 8.56 pm: goes out 10.15 pm 

“Then shall the Land (of Israel) make up for its Sabbath years and you are in the land of your enemies…” (Lev. 26:34)

The Talmud (Shabbat 33) explains the verse above: because of the sins of [not observing] shmitta (Sabbatical) years, exile was decreed and others came to dwell in their place.

One important idea of the Sabbatical year is to demonstrate that the land is not ours.  We are as servants on the land; six years we work and, if we behave properly, the land will be given for an additional six years.  However, when they cancelled the Sabbatical year and acted as if the land was theirs, they were exiled from it ; measure for measure.

I think “custodians” instead of “owners” is a better way to think about possession of land.  This has political implications, i.e. the need to share the land when there is a refugee crisis;  and I think we would be living an ecologically “greener” lifestyle if we truly thought of ourselves as caretakers of the world God created.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

May 31, 2016