In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Behar-Bechukotai Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34, on the mountain of Sinai, God communicates to Moses the laws of the Sabbatical year: every seventh year, all work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast.

Seven Sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year—the Jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners. Additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against fraud and usury, are also given.

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In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading Jeremiah 16:19 – 17:14, discusses the punishments that await those who disregard God’s law, and the blessings that are the lot of those who follow the Creator’s wishes. This follows the theme of this week’s Torah reading which details at length the blessings and curses.

The prophet Jeremiah rebukes the people of Israel for their idolatrous ways and for not having faith in God. He conveys God’s words of wrath towards those who do not put their trust in Him — foretelling exile as their punishment — and of blessings for those who do.

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Happy studying!

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