Nimrod and the pig farm - in the Land He gave to Israel

Due to the discrepancy in the Torah reading between Eretz Yisrael and Chu"l we include a dvar Torah on both Parashot by young Israeli rabbis in the Torah Mitzion movement.

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Due to the discrepancy in the Torah reading between Eretz Yisrael and Chu"l we will feature a dvar Torah on both Parashot:

Parashat Behar (for readers abroad): The Land He Gave to Mankind


By Rav Jake Vidomlanski, former Shaliach in Cleveland (1998-1999), currently Ram at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah and Sgan Rosh Moshava IO

Parashat Behar is dominated by the laws of Yovel and their nature. Ultimately what marks the Yovel is that it reverses various acquisitions that have transpired since the previous Yovel. Land that was sold is returned to its original owner, slaves that were hitherto indentured are set free. Broadly speaking, these laws express God’s jurisdiction and dominion over the world. 

As such it is surprising that there is a notable exception to the rule of Yovel, namely a residence inside a walled city.  There, the law dictates that after the sale of one’s residence inside a walled city one has the option to redeem the house for up to one year from the sale. After the initial year the house belongs to the purchaser in perpetuity, the residence does not return to its original owner at Yovel.   
The Chizkuni suggests that the reason for the disparity lays in the fact that fields are the source of man’s sustenance. As such the torah makes stipulations on land sales to insure that man will not lose the source for his provisions.  On the other hand, a house, does not generate income and as such may be sold in perpetuity (chizkuni 25:29, see also the Orach Chaim for an inspiring exposition on these psukim).  Ultimately, according the Chizkuni, it is a matter of practical financial considerations.

Rav Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion suggests an alternative understanding. If it is true, as we suggested, that the framework of Yovel is to demonstrate God’s dominion over the world, why do the fields have to revert to their previous original owners? Why don’t the fields simply become ownerless? 

Rav Bazak proposes that it is because initially the fields were given to their original owners by The Master of the Universe: “you shall give the land as an inheritance by lot to your families; to the many you shall increase its inheritance and the few shall you decrease its inheritance. Wherever its lot shall fall, his shall it be…" (Bamidbar 33:54).  The act of the fields returning to their original owners is in fact a recreation of the primary division that was divinely orchestrated. 

However, Hashem, partners with man. God gives man room, and indeed expects man, to cultivate and advance the land. As the pasuk in Tehillim (115:16) states “and the land He gave to mankind.” A walled city is the fruit of man’s labor, a testament to his creativity and capabilities, and perhaps serves as a reminder to his mission. Because the walled city and the home are products of man’s ingenuity and labor, ownership over the residence is retained even during Yovel. 

In light of Rav Bazak’s thought, perhaps one can suggest that keeping the residence is a “payment” of sorts that Hashem makes to us for partnering with Him in developing His land. For more than a century now we have been actively building up, cultivating, and developing the land of Israel. Ceasing our involvement may, heaven forbid, compromise our right to the land. Our involvement in this epic endeavor helps to insure that Israel forever will remain the sole possession of the Jewish people in perpetuity. 


Parashat Bechukotai (for readers in Israel): Nimrod and the pig farm

Rabbi Dudi Winkler

By Rav Dudi Winkler, former Rosh Kollel in Melbourne (2011-2014), currently Rabbi and the director of Lev LaChayal the religious Center for Lone soldiers at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah

This week's Parasha brings us to the conclusion of Sefer Vayikra. Chumash Shemot. and Chumash

Vayikra took us through the journey of the creation of Am Yisrael.

Every year we experience again the three major events which formed Am Yisrael into what it is:
Yitziat Mtzrayim, Matan Torah and the building of the Mishkan. 

Once the Mishkan is built and the Shechina dwells upon the Jewish people – Hashem promises us that his divine presence will never be removed from us.  

However, like every relationship, there needs to be a condition or a set of rules in order to guide us how to make sure we get the most out of the relationship, and this is what our parsha teaches us:

אם בחוקותי תלכו.... ואם לא תשמעו לי.
Rashi, the words "ואם לא תשמעו לי" says:
"ומה תלמוד לומר לי – אין לי אלא זה המכיר את ריבונו ומתכוון למרוד בו".

In order to violate the condition with Hashem and receive punishment, not only that one has to go against Hashem's will, rather he must first know Hashem and them. even though he fully acknowledges and believes in Hashem  and nonetheless go deliberately against Him.

This Rashi reminds me of a story that took place 10 years ago. I was in the middle of miluim (army reserve duty) and was one of two religious soldiers in my unit. In between the different missions and tasks we had to do, we had some free time which we used to chat with each other. The IDF is the melting pot of Am Yisrael and brings together many different types of Jews.

I've had a lot of discussions with another guy named Nimrod. It seems like his name (which literally means 'let us rebel') was the most appropriate for him. Nimrod and his father owned a pig farm in Israel. He was proud of having the experience of tasting every possible animal.

At some point during our discussion he asked me: "What are you? What kind of a Jew are you? You aren't a religious Jew! This can't be! What you're telling me doesn't sound like what a religious Jew would say!"    
His words brought me back to look again into  Parashat Bechukotaiand the Rashi I quoted above.

Our relationship with Hashem has within it, on the one hand, unconditional love, but on the other hand a condition of what will happen if we keep the Torah laws, and what if we do not.

The punishment for not keeping the laws of the Torah is terrible, but Rashi teaches us that in order to be "qualified" to receive the punishment – you need to KNOW Hashem and with that to rebel against him.

The Nimrod – the rebel from my IDF unit went against the Torah and against Hashem – but it was against what he thought Hashem is, and against what he was taught Hashem is.

We can teach a lot of zechut on so many non-affiliated Jews, who may be choosing to live or go "off the derech", but this was not a result of any bad intention rather a lack of knowledge as to what Judaism truly is.
May we have the merit to learn and understand more and more of our Jewish belief, and share it with our holy brothers and sisters.

We shouldn't look down at any Jew no matter what he is or isn't doing, keeping or not keeping. Let us all increase our knowledge and depth of Jewish values and philosophy and may Hashem help us to reach the days of which מלאה הארץ דעה את ה' כמים לים מכסים, and then we should be zoche to the promise of וישבתם לבטח בארצכם