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.