Larchmont Temple Chevra Torah

Questioning faith in the parsha

Redeeming the land, redeeming Israel

I see in Behar, this mishmash of puzzling realty rules and covenantal affirmations, a metaphysical core, revealed in particular by the intertwined meanings of the word “redemption” – buying back, release from obligation and spiritual deliverance.

“…the land must not be sold beyond reclaim, for the land is Mine; you are but strangers resident with Me. Throughout the land that you hold, you must provide for the redemption of the land.”

Rashi comments that the land must not be sold in a way that definitively severs the original owner’s connection with it.

The  Original Owner.

He who becomes too attached to the land becomes again a captive, just as before we were captives in Egypt. Release or redemption means return to original ownership. In truth, our ownership of anything is always transitory. All things remain owned beyond ourselves: we ourselves are owned. “Mine are the Israelites as slaves, they are my slaves whom I brought out of the land of Egypt.”

What I take from all this is the folly of attachment. Holding must eventually translate into releasing. That which we think we possess, our houses, our land, our very lives, must be redeemed.

What more appropriate message at this time, when Israel stands so much in need of redemption, as it is written in Psalm 25: “O keep my soul and deliver me … Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”



One response to “Redeeming the land, redeeming Israel

  1. IrvZuckerman May 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I’m reminded of a visit to Israel that offered the opportunity to meet with the members of a kibbutz. I recall with some delight the confusion that reigned among a phalanx of Long Island Jews who could not for the combined lives of them figure out the lack of inheritance.

    They simply could not grasp the idea that the house did not ‘belong’ to its occupant. It could not be ‘left’ to the children. This idea of lack of posession was so upsetting, the guide cut the session short. As we walked away, one plaintive remark from one of our group stayed with e over the years: ” If you can’t leave it to your children, then what’s the point”?

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