Ariel Ben Avraham

Parshat Behar: Shabbat

This portion is about the Shabbat and we may think that it should be named Shabbat instead of Behar, which means “in the mountain” where God asks Moses to tell the children of Israel commandments related to the Shabbats of the promised land.

“When you come into the Land which I give you, then shall the Land keep a Shabbat unto the Lord. (…) a Shabbat of solemn rest for the Land, a Shabbat unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 25:2, 4)

Unto the Lord is remarked to emphasize that our awareness of oneness with God’s love is complete in the Shabbat.

Our sages say that God, the Torah, Israel and the Shabbat are one, hence the Shabbat is the realization of that oneness both in time and space. At this point we understand that it is in the mountain, behar, where we are one with God when He gives us the Torah. This is a remembrance of the oneness that occurs in the Shabbat.

There are specific commandments regarding the times we count, either days or years, to prepare for the holy day, the holy year, and the holy cycle (jubilee) made out of those years.

“Because it is a jubilee it shall be holy unto you, you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.” (25:12)

In the same way that it is commanded to us that six days we labor and cease our work on the seventh day, we are commanded to do so all the years of our lives.

We have said that our labor during the six days is to reveal the divine presence in ourselves and our surroundings, in preparation to be reunited with God in the Shabbat. This process is also repeated every six years in which our labor is to be and do His ways and attributes.

“Where you shall do My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and you shall eat until you have enough, and dwell therein in safety.” (25:18-19)

In safety is mentioned twice, meaning that if we are united with God, what could we fear?

The Land also rests in order for us to enjoy the fruits of our labor, which are also the fruits of the land which represents our higher awareness of God’s love.

“And you shall not wrong one another; but you shall revere your God; because I am the Lord your God.” (25:17)

This means that everything we do in our six-day labor must not imply in any way harming, damaging or undermining our fellow man but doing exactly the opposite. The following verses command us to honor, respect and embrace our fellow man in particular during the times of these year-long Shabbats.

Between these verses the Torah states that the promised land belongs to God as part of Him, and we can’t sale it, trade it or change it for anything that is not itself.


“And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity because the land is Mine, because you are strangers and settlers with Me.” (25:23)

In His land we are just His guests, and as such we have to follow His ways and attributes, as He commands us to.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be your God.” (25:38)

This clearly specifies that for God to be our Lord we have to live in His land in constant awareness of His love in our consciousness.

“Because to Me the children of Israel are servants, they are My servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (25:55)

This is reminded again in the last verse of this parshah.

“You shall keep My Shabbats, and revere My sanctuary, I am the Lord.” (26:2)

Before this we are warned again against ego’s fantasies and illusions as the idols we are commanded to reject.

“You shall make you no idols, neither shall you rear you up a graven image, or a pillar, neither shall you place any figured stone in your land, to bow down unto it; because I am the Lord your God.” (26:1)

Let’s remind ourselves again that in this land we are His guests and also His servants to dwell in it in complete awareness His ways and attributes in what we are and what we do.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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