May 25, 2019 - Iyyar 20, 5779
Behar: "On Mount Sinai"
Torah: Leviticus 25:1-26:2
Haftarah: Jeremiah 32:6-27
Brit Chadashah (New Testament): Luke 4:16-21
Sabbatical Year and Year of Jubilee
G-d commands Moses concerning the keeping of the Sabbatical year every seven years. The seventh year was called the “Sh’mitah” (or the Sabbatical Year). Sh’mitah means “to let go” or “to withdraw”.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when you come into the land (Leviticus 25:2-4) which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the L-rd. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; but the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath of the L-rd ”.
A very important aspect of this Sh’mitah is the forgiveness of debt and the land was to lay fallow on the seventh year. No sowing or reaping was to be done in the seventh year and then the year of Jubilee was also instituted at this time, every fifty years.
This law was not obeyed, and the result was ‘big trouble’. The seventy years of captivity in Babylon was understood to be G-d’s judgment on the nation of Israel for the lack of obedience to this commandment.
G-d is promising to provide during the year that the land lies fallow. He is also commanding that no one oppress his brethren by loaning with interest to any one of the House of Israel. Then He discusses the laws concerning the sale of property inside and outside of walled cities, and the freeing of slaves that are brethren, fellow citizens of the nation of Israel.
What speaks very loudly through this portion is G-d’s mercy and long suffering, with His Chosen People and so with us as well. Elohim still says that “he that touches Israel touches the ‘apple of His eye”. (Zechariah 2:8)
“Thus says the L-rd, which gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; the L-rd of Hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the L-rd, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever.” (Jeremiah 31:35)