August 23, 2019 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) - Behar

Here's a mystery for you. You probably are aware that the convention of dividing the Torah by chapters and verses is a later tradition. You'll see no such break in an actual Torah scroll. Thus the weekly reading may start in the middle of a chapter and conclude before a chapter is finished. This week's Parshah B'har is an especially curious example. It concludes with the first two verses of Leviticus 26, warning against idol worship and promoting Sabbath observance. Why? One traditional theory is that because the material just before focuses on an Israelite selling himself into a slavery to a non-Jew, it is a reminder such a person not to fall into alien and idolatrous ways. A more modern reading suggests that these two points are a call to all Jews to adhere to core Torah principles, setting the stage for next week's Parshah B'Hukkotai, the concluding portion in Leviticus. And then there are those looking for an easy answer, who simply note that in non-leap years, B'har and B'Hukkotai are read together and you might not even notice the break.


Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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