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Parashat Behar - 5776

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Behar, consisting mostly of chapter 25 in the Book of Deuteronomy.

The entire chapter is dedicated to the laws that the children will need to keep when they enter the Promised Land. These laws are all related to helping others. When they enter the land everyone will get a piece of the land, in a fair land distribution, all done by lots and divided in a way that the large tribes get a larger portion of the and than the smaller ones.

The first Mitzvah mentioned in this parasha is the Sabbatical year. Just like people are commanded to rest on the Seventh Day is the land to be left alone on the seventh year.

In addition to the Sabbatical year there are also instructions regarding the 50th year, known as the Jubilee year, when slaves go free, and anyone who had sold his land will get it back. In this way the family gets another chance to make a living off of the land that has been returned.

The balance of Chapter 25 urges us to help people in need. The Midrash brings together several verses from other places in the Bible, which praise those who help the poor and promise them great reward.

There is a very interesting comment with this message. When someone helps a poor person, it is as if this person has helped G-d do His job. Based on a Biblical verse, it is as if G-d becomes beholden to that person who provides for the poor. It is like giving a loan to G-d. G-d has an excellent credit rating and can be counted on to pay you back.

In this land of plenty, we know that there are millions who are struggling and living in severe poverty. Think of the thousands of people who lack a home and other basic needs. The thousands who sleep on the streets who we encounter in every major city, the homeless of our society. The Midrash on this parasha concludes that even the smallest gift that a person makes towards people in need will be doubly repaid by G-d. It is a Mitzvah that its reward is promised.

Have you helped a poor person recently? G-d will reward you.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram