Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha # 32: B’har (On Mount) 25:1-26:2
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 32: 6-27
B’rit Hadashah: Luke 4: 16-21; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24; Galatians 6: 7-10
This Parsha deals primarily with Shemitta (The seventh, or “Sabbatical” year) and Yovel (the “Jubilee” year). These are the cycles of 7 and 50 years that YHVH Elohim commanded for rest; certain contracts and debts are to be voided and forgiven, and the land is to rest. The land’s rest in the seventh year teaches that the primary force in the universe is G-d, not natural law. We see that HaShem guarantees a three-fold harvest in the preceding year if Israel obeys Him. By leaving his fields untended and unguarded for a year, the Israelite demonstrates that this world is but a corridor leading to the ultimate world, that true life comes when man stops striving for material gain in favor of dedication to spiritual growth. But man cannot abstain from the world in which he lives. Shemitta is only once in seven years; that is why the Torah states clearly that man must sow and harvest for six years, just as it states that man works six says and rests on the Sabbath. This recognition infuses holiness and purpose into out work years and our workdays.
Ramban comments that the comparison between Shemitta and the Sabbath is both to bear testimony to YHVH’s creation of the universe in six days and His rest on the Sabbath. This is why Shemitta unlike the other festivals is likened to the Sabbath. The seven years of the Shemitta cycle allude to the six thousand years of history allotted to mankind with the seventh year or Sabbath year being the millennial reign of Yahshua haMashiach in which there will be peace and tranquility.
Inserted within the Parsha are a number of other laws that Israel must observe. Laws pertaining to slavery, idol worshipping, and the Sabbath. Why do these laws follow the laws of Shmitta and Yovel?
Just as YHVH created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, so too man must work six days and rest on the seventh. Shabbat was set aside for us to contemplate upon YHVH and His creation. We need to take time to fully appreciate the wonders YHVH has given to us. Not only His creation, but also our family, husbands, wives and children. Even our ability to earn a living and to be productive is owed to YHVH/Yahshua. Shabbat is the perfect opportunity to remember and acknowledge YHVH, His creation and that He continues to sustain it for us, just as is Rosh Kodesh.
During the Shmitta year we also acknowledge that the earth belongs to YHVH for He is the One who created it. We are His caretakers. He has given us permission to eat of the earth’s produce, but we must remember that “The whole land belongs to me (YHVH Elohim).” (25:23). The condition of our world today is a sad testimony to our lack of proper stewardship of all that HaShem has given us. Those who care for what G-d has given including the earthly resources and observe G-d’s regulations and rulings, will be blessed (Lev. 25:18-22).
Yovel occurs after seven complete Shmitta cycles. In this 50th year, not only is farming forbidden, but also any land that was sold is returned to its original owner. This reminds us that though property can be bought and sold by us as caretakers we still don’t really own it. It is YHVH’s.
During Jubilee, Israelite slaves are to be set free. Again, we are reminded that an Israelite is the property of YHVH and we are His slaves and should not be a slave to others. We can also translate this to not being a slave to sin.
Finally, one who worships idols rebels against the idea that there is ONE sovereign G-d who rules over the entire world. For the idol worshipper there is the god of the sun, the moon (Allah), stars or a pantheon of gods who don’t have time to deal with men because they are usually at war with each other. Some also make gods in the form of material possessions, even idol worship focused upon another person or themselves.
To answer the question, “why do these laws follow the laws of Shmitta and Yovel” we can see that all the commandments in the Parsha revolve around the same concept: YHVH Elohim’s insistence that believers recognize the fact that the world and its inhabitants belong to HIM. Whatever we have in way of possessions are but on loan from YHVH’s storehouse of riches.
We should also look at verses 14-55 and examine the sequence of the passages. They seem to be arranged randomly, but Rashi explains their logical sequence. By the progression of the commandments, the Torah implies that if one allows greed to keep him from obeying Shemitta and Jubilee prohibitions, he will eventually have to lose his money and be forced to sell his movable property (v. 14). If he still does not repent, he will be forced to sell his ancestral portion (v. 25-28) and his house (v. 29-31), and finally, to borrow at interest. If this progression of punishment has no effect, he will eventually have to sell himself as a bondsman to a fellow Israelite (v. 37-43), and finally as a slave to a non-Israelite. Worst of all, he will sell himself and become a servant of idols (vs. 47-55). Note: G-d commanded that an Israelite be redeemed as soon as possible from a non-Israelite because of the real fear that the Israelite would become assimilated and begin to worship idols as his non-Israelite owner.
Look it up!
1. Find at least two significant differences between Shmitta and Yovel.
2. This Parsha address primarily the different laws of Shmitta, Yovel, and other commandments as they apply between man and man. How do the last two verses in the Parsha, dealing with the prohibition of making idols, fit in?
The Sages Wisdom:
“And you shall not deceive your fellow man.” (25:17)
We can take this a step further. Not only do we deceive our fellow man, we often deceive ourselves. Shakespeare wrote, “This above all, to thine own self be true…If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll be honest with others.
“If your brother falls…you should support him.” (25:35)
Why are the verses prior to this one written in the plural, while this one is in the singular?
Sometimes when someone needs help we volunteer others to help him, saying they are closer relatives or wealthier friends. That’s why the Torah specifically uses the singular. You are to look at this unfortunate fellow and though you are his only brother, and therefore, the only one around to help him.
“You shall not take any interest from him.” (25:36)
Why is it prohibited to lend a fellow Israelite money and charge interest?
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin explains that the most important thing we have in life is “time.” Time is what puts everything into perspective. In truth, we should be sad at every passing moment. For each brings us closer to “the day of reckoning.”
But someone who lends money at interest has the exact opposite feeling for every second that passes brings him great joy, because he is making more interest on his money.
The Haftarah Connection (Jeremiah 32:6-17)
Our Parsha deals with the laws pertaining to Shmitta and Yovel. One of the major laws regarding ownership of land is that it must be redeemed if sold to another person.
In our Haftarah, YHVH tells Jeremiah to redeem his cousin’s land. This redemption comes at a time when B’nai Yisrael are on the verge of being destroyed by their enemies. In redeeming his cousin’s land, Jeremiah shows B’nai Yisrael that they must have faith that YHVH will save them from their enemies.
The word B’yovel, “in a Jubilee (year),” has the numeric value of 50. Yovel comes around once every 50 years.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart