Weekly Reading Insights:

Overview of the Weekly Reading

Torah: Lev.25:1-26:2;
Haftorah: Jeremiah 32:6-27 (redemption of hereditary land by relatives, as in 25:25)



"When you come into the land that I give you." (25:2)
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov once commented that it wasn't until he had actually visited the Land of Israel that he understood why the Torah uses the present tense when referring to the Holy Land, e.g., "that I give you": When a Jew merits to live in Israel, his gratitude to G-d is fresh and new each day, as if the land had just been given to him.

"When you come into the land which I am giving to you, then the land will keep a Sabbath to G-d." (25:2)
The Sabbath is not only the prized "possession" of the Jews. The Jewish land also has a Sabbath. The same way that a Jewish servant serves his master for six years and goes free in the seventh, so does the land produce for the Jew for six years, reverting to its true Master in the seventh. The value of the Holy Land is not limited to how much she can produce agriculturally; the Land of Israel has an independent value and worth. During the Sabbatical year we honor that essential value.
(Rabbi Yitzchak Breuer)

"When you come to the Land" - when a person organizes his life and begins to be involved in earthly matters and mundane work, "the Land will keep a Sabbath to G-d" - it is imperative for the person to know that the whole intention and purpose of his involvement in earthly matters is for the purpose of the "Sabbath" - holiness.
(Likutei Sichot)

"For six years you shall prune your vineyard." (25:3)
The Jewish people are called a "vineyard" by the Prophet Isaiah: "For G-d's vineyard is the army of the House of Israel" (Isaiah 5). Each and every Jew must work at clearing up and pruning his own vineyard - his unfavorable traits such as jealousy, hatred, lustfulness, etc.
(Likutei Torah) (from L'Chaim #819)

"The land shall rest-it shall be to you for food." (25:6)
The Zohar says of the holy Shabbat,"From it are blessed all the days of the week to come." So too with years, blessing and prosperity in his land will come to someone who properly observes the Sabbatical year. "The land shall rest"-if you allow the land to rest; "it shall be to you for food"-you will be blessed for the next six years."
( Otzair Hayyim -translated from Sichat HaShavuah #488)

"And you will not swindle your fellowman" (25:17)
"What is a chassid?" asked Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshischa. Then he answered: According to the Rambam, a chassid is a person who does everything a little more then what the law demands. If the Torah commands every person :"You will not swindle your fellow man", the chassid does more then that and he doesn't even fool himself.
(from Otzer HaChassidut -translated from Sichat HaShavuah #73)

"You shall not deceive one another." (25:17)
Can a person really deceive another, especially in spiritual matters? Even if he succeeds in his deception, the victory is only temporary and the deceit is always eventually revealed. The only person, therefore, who has been effectively deceived is the deceiver himself. And is it so difficult to fool a fool?
(Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch)

"For strangers and sojourners are you with Me." (25:23)
The more a person considers himself only a sojourner and a temporary resident of this world, the closer he is to G-d. And, unfortunately, the opposite is also true...
(Rabbi Boruch of Mezhibozh)

"Don't take any kind of interest from him, and you shall fear G-d." (25:36)
If you do a good deed, don't ask from G-d reward for your deed, or take pride in it, for then it is as if you are taking interest from G-d, thus causing Him sorrow. Let all your deed's be for G-d's sake.
(Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzinsk -translated from Sichat HaShavuah #436)

"Do not take of him any usury or increase ('ribit')." (25:36)
The numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word "ribit" is 612 - one short of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah - teaching us that the mitzva of not charging interest is considered as great as all the other mitzvot combined.
(Baal HaTurim)

"You will not give him your money with interest" (25:37)
When you give a poor person money, give it to him with a smiling face and encouraging words. Don't 'bite' (taking interest and biting have the root in Hebrew) at the time you give him the money with words that cut his heart.
(Malechet Machshevet -translated from Sichat HaShavuah 227)

"For the children of Israel are servants to Me." (25:55)
The Jewish people are sometimes referred to as G-d's servants and sometimes as His children. As far as the Jewish body is concerned we are His servants, unconditionally accepting the yoke of heaven to carry out His will. As concerns the soul, however, every Jew is a child of G-d, for the soul serves G-d with love as a child serves his father.
(Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntresim)



"G-d spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai... the land shall rest a Sabbath to the L-rd" (25:1, 2).
Why the juxtaposition of Mt. Sinai with the commandment of the Sabbatical year? Chasidic teachings explain that the Sinai Desert symbolizes the "wilderness of the nations"-the time of exile; the Sabbatical year refers to the Messianic era. The two concepts are juxtaposed to teach us that when a Jew keeps the imminent Redemption in his consciousness, he can actually have a foretaste of the Messianic era. Human nature is such that when we anticipate a great event, the very knowledge that it is about to occur makes us joyful.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe-from L'Chaim 107)

"And if a man has no redeemer, but gains enough to be able to redeem it himself" (Lev. 25:26)
According to the Talmud the Torah occasionally uses the word ish (man) as a simile for G-d. In the event no Jewish leader is at hand to arouse the people to return to G-d as penitents, this is no reason to abandon hope altogether. Rather, "gains enough to be able to redeem it himself"-- the Jewish people will achieve their redemption by alternative means. Sanhedrin 98 describes both afflictions and national exile as means to bring about redemption.
(Or HaChayim as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk)

"After he is sold he must be redeemed; one of his brothers should redeem him...." (Lev. 25:48)
This hints to Mashiach, who is from the "number one" tribe of Yehudah. By referring to Mashiach as our "brother," the verse teaches us that he is not an angel, but a person born to a father and mother, as we all are. The same happened when we were redeemed the first time. We were taken out by a person -- Moses -- not an angel.
(Rabbeinu Bachaye - [Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).)

"...Or his uncle or his cousin should redeem him...." (25:49)
This situation symbolizes exile; it is as if we are the poor person who has been sold to the non-Jewish nations. Who will obtain our release? It will be done by Mashiach. This is hinted in the way the Torah writes the word for "his cousin" - "ben-dodo." Since it is written with only one letter "vav," instead of the usual two, "ben-dodo" has the same letters as "ben-David" -- Mashiach ben David!
(Baal HaTurim. Daas Z'keinim - Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).)

"His uncle or his cousin shall thus redeem him." (25:49)
The verses which deal with the mitzva of redeeming a Jew who was sold as a slave to a non-Jew, allude to the ultimate redemption of the entire Jewish people. An alternative meaning of 'uncle' -'dod' in Hebrew--is 'friend' (as in "Lecha Dodi…"). On a profound level, the 'uncle' is none other than the Almighty and the 'cousin' is Mashiach.
(from "The Midrash Says")




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