Parshiot Behar & Bechukotai (On a Mountain & in My decrees)
Leviticus 25:1-26:2 & 26:3-27:34
Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
This Shabbat we read two Torah readings. This article will be based on the first reading, Behar. In this section, one learns of the Shemittah year or Sabbatical year (every seventh year) and also the year of Jubilee (every fiftieth year). In the Shemittah year, not only does one let the fields lay fallow, but slaves go free (Exodus 21:2). In the Jubilee year, property (land) which was previously sold must go back to the original owner. Within this section, one reads the following verse:
“And a man shall not oppress his colleague but he shall fear G-d, for I am the L-rd your G-d.” Leviticus 25:17
The context of this section makes it very clear that one should not try to benefit materially from the misfortune of someone else. Rather, one profits from hard work. The wealth he acquires may be used to purchase additional land, but every Jubilee year the land is returned. This commandment assists the business man not to focus on simply getting more and more, but rather to remember the Kingdom that is coming. It is not a coincidence that immediately after this verse there is another admonition to do and guard the commandments. In other words, if one is focusing on obedience to HaShem he will not be oppressing his fellow worker or trying to get ahead of him so that he can simply acquire more; rather he will be much more likely to assist his co-worker and desire to see him succeed. In doing so, he demonstrates faith. How is this? He relies on HaShem to bless him and position him where G-d wants him to be and with what G-d wants him to have, instead of forcing himself there.
In the New Covenant, one reads about how a manager was not faithful in his duties and therefore was being fired. When he learned that he was losing his position, he utilized all that he had in order to secure a better future for himself, prior to being dismissed. The message of this parable (See Luke 16:1-15) teaches that life comes to an end for every individual, and therefore one should utilize all his earthy resources to secure for himself a better future in the Kingdom.
For many, this idea is foreign; they think that all will have the same experience in the Kingdom. This is not the case. In the same way that Yeshua said it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for Capernaum, Beit Tzaida, or Korazin (See Luke 10:12-15); so too will there be different levels in the Kingdom. In the book of Revelation, one reads that Messiah Yeshua is coming and that He will render to each one a reward according to one’s work. Obviously one is not redeemed by good works, but by the Blood of Yeshua. However, after being saved and having one’s entrance into the Kingdom secured, one should want to be faithful to Yeshua and please Him and be given a place of service in the Kingdom which reflects one’s faithfulness.
If you are one who says, “As long as I am in the Kingdom, then that is good enough for me”, then there is a good chance you have not understood the Gospel correctly. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua, one will not just want to be in the Kingdom, he will want to demonstrate his love for Yeshua in obedience. One who says, I am not concerned with where I will be in the Kingdom, just so I’m there, is someone who is motivated by self and not truly understanding what Yeshua has done for him. A loveless faith is a powerless faith.
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