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Behar and Behukkotai – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

The two Parashot for this week are Behar and Behukkotai and with them we come to the end of Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus.


Behar sets out a prospect of a society wedded to the land which is Utopian in its ideas. We are given the instruction for a Jubilee to rest the land and offered a template for a society of justice, freedom, and human dignity:

And you shall not wrong, one man his fellow Jew

The care of the land anticipates modern ideas of a “green” world with care for the environment. It even incorporates the idea of avoiding waste:

You will eat very old and you will clear out the old from before the new

Behukkotai open with the promise of blessings and a journey:

If you walk in My laws and faithfully observe my commandments, I will grant your rains in their seasons, so that the earth shall yield its produce

This is followed by a series of dire threats if we fail but God promises not to forget us:

 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people

Some of us may be familiar with the verse:

Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow,
Do not walk behind me I may not lead,
Just walk beside me and be my friend.

It has been completed, in Jewish circles, by the line:

And together we will walk in the ways of Hashem.

We are a fortunate people. As Jews we can envisage a scenario where we do not have to be led as slaves or be pushed from behind but can walk together with God if we so choose.

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