19 May Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for B’har-B’chukotai 5777
This Shabbat we read from Parashat B’har-B’chukotai, the double portion that completes the book of Leviticus. While the plurality of this week’s Torah reading deals with a long list of potential punishments that might befall the Israelites should they choose not to follow God’s commandments in a section called the tocheicha, or the Great Rebuke, we will also read about a commandment that continues to be observed in our times called sh’mita. It is instructed that every seventh year all Jewish owned land in Israel is to be given a year off. Seeds cannot be planted and crops cannot be harvested in this sh’mitah year – the next one of which will be the year 5782. What this reminds us is that even when we purchase a plot of land anywhere in the world, often times in what is a challenging financial undertaking, ultimately all the Earth is God’s creation. We may own it amongst the human race, but our gratitude for that ability must always be directed higher.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik