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ויראת מאלקיך וחי אחיך עמך

And you shall fear your G-d – and let your brother live with you. (25:36)

Tapuchei Chaim derives from this pasuk an important lesson concerning interpersonal relationships. V’yareisa mei Elokecha, “And you shall fear your G-d” – How do we know that you truly fear Hashem? What is the barometer, the litmus test, that determines your level of yiraas Shomayim? V’chai achicha imach, “And let your brother live with you.” If you look and perceive the needs of your fellow/brother, when you show that you believe that life and living is not only about you, but about others as well, this is a sign that you are a yarei Shomayim. Otherwise, you have not fulfilled…

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ולא תונו איש את עמיתו ויראת מאלקיך

Each of you shall not aggrieve his fellow, and you shall fear your G-d. (25:17)

The Torah admonishes us concerning onaas devarim, which means (in short) using speech that may be hurtful to – or might catalyze negative emotions in – the listener. Evoking memories of someone’s negative, troubling past; attributing the onus of one’s problems to his past sinful behavior; reminding a convert about his prior life as a gentile: these are examples of onaas devarim. Clearly, one who acts in such a manner is himself a sick person, and, as such, the prohibition may not deter him from acting inconsiderately of others. Sadly, the only fulfillment in this person’s life is the pain…

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וספרת לך שבע שבתת שנים ... וקדשתם את שנת החמשים שנה ... לא תזרעו ולא תקצרו

You shall count for yourself seven cycles of Sabbatical years … You shall sanctify the fiftieth year … You shall not sow, you shall not harvest. (25:8,10,11)

Bitachon means trust. For a Jew, bitachon means trust in Hashem, because ein od Milvado, no one other than He exists. Without Hashem, nothing is possible; with Hashem, everything is achievable. It is as simple as that. Without the Almighty, we simply cannot function. The mitzvos of Shemittah and Yovel are the “poster” mitzvos which underscore the need for bitachon. After all, to close up shop for a year – and, during Yovel, for two years – demands super human trust in Hashem. One might think that living with bitachon is a specific characterization of one’s religious observance, as if…

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ושבתה הארץ שבת לד' ... שש שנים תזרע שדך ... ובשנה השביעית שבת שבתון יהיה לארץ

The land shall observe a Shabbos rest for Hashem … For six years you may sow your field … but the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land. (25:2,3,4)

The parshah commences with the laws of Shemittah, which require fields in Eretz Yisrael under Jewish ownership to lie fallow during the seventh (and fiftieth) year of the agricultural cycle. This is not the first time that the Torah introduces us to the laws of Shemittah. In Parashas Mishpatim (Shemos 23:10-12), the Torah teaches us concerning Shemittah, “Six years you shall work your field…In the seventh you shall let it rest.” The Torah then adds the laws of Shabbos which also revolve around a six-day work schedule, followed by a seventh-day rest period: “Six days shall you do your work,…

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וחי אחיך עמך

And let your brother live with you. (25:36)

The Talmud (Bava Metzia 62a) discusses the halachah of a hypothetical case in which two men are stranded in the wilderness with one serving of life-sustaining water between them. What do they do? If both drink – both die; if one drinks, he will survive, but his friend will not. Ben Peturah derives from the words, V’chai achicha imach; “Better they should both perish than one should see his friend die, while he survives. (Your brother shall live with you.) This was the accepted opinion until Rabbi Akiva came and taught, “And your brother shall live with you” – indicating…

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כי ימוך אחיך ומכר מאחזתו... ואיש כי לא יהיה לא גאל והשיגה ידו ומצא כדי גאלתו

If your brother becomes impoverished and sells part of his ancestral inheritance… if a man will have no redeemer, but his means suffice and he acquires enough for his redemption. (25:25,26)

An ancestral field should not be sold. It is supposed to remain within the family. If it must be sold in order to generate badly needed funds, it may be sold only for the number of crops it will yield until Yovel, the upcoming Jubilee year, when it reverts back to its original owner. If the owner does not have the necessary funds to redeem his field before the Jubilee year, the responsibility falls on his relatives to help him out. If he has no “redeemer,” relative, to assist in extricating him from his bind, the field remains with the…

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או אז יכנע לבבם הערל

Then at last shall their obstructed heart be subdued. (26:41)

Parashas Bechukosai contains within it the first Tochacha, Rebuke/curses, whose purpose is to teach mussar, ethical direction, reproof, in order to inspire them to wake up and repent. This is alluded to by the above pasuk: the rebuke/curses will liberate them from the fetters of the yetzer hora, evil inclination. Additionally, rebuke is a good thing – in that it assures us that Hashem cares. Horav Yisrael Belsky, zl, explains that a child who misbehaves knows that he is in for a punishment when his parents become aware of his misdeed. What if they ignore it, ignore him? This implies…

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ונתתי גשמיכם בעתם ונתנה הארץ יבולה ועץ השדה יתן פריו

Then I will provide your rains in their time and the land will give its produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit. (26:4)

“Rains in their time” means the time most convenient for people – such as Friday nights when people are generally at home or close by. When we get “wet,” it is for a reason. Hashem defrays anything that might prove to be a nuisance from inconveniencing us. The Midrash, however, adds that, at times, an entire community or even a city might have rain in the merit of one person who needs the benefit it provides. Chazal go so far as to posit that, at times, Hashem may send rain for the benefit of one field, even one blade of…

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שש שנים תזרע שדך... ובשנה השביעית שבת שבתון יהיה לארץ

For six years you may sow your field… But the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land. (25:3,4)

The mitzvah of Shemittah teaches us that Hashem rules the universe. He is the only force in the universe, not the laws of nature. By allowing his field to remain untended and unguarded, the Jew declares to the world that life is not about material bounty. When Hashem says, “Stop,” we halt our work, our production – whether it is Erev Shabbos or Shemittah. We ascribe to a Higher Power, and we believe with complete faith that Hashem will provide for our needs. During the Shemittah year, all of the produce of that year is hefker, free for all to…

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וידבר ד' אל משה בהר סיני לאמר

And Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai saying. (25:1)

Hashem spoke to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai concerning the laws of Shemittah, the Sabbatical/seventh year. Rashi asks: Why Shemittah? How is Shemittah linked to Sinai? He explains that the Torah is teaching us that just like Shemittah is detailed with rules and fine points, likewise, this applies to all mitzvos; their rules and details were taught to them at that time as well. The laws of Shemittah were not repeated again prior to the Jews’ entrance into the Land. As such, everything took place at Sinai, with Shemittah serving as the exemplar, prototype, for all other mitzvos. Is this…

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