Parshat Behar: The place of God’s love

“And the Lord spoke to Moses in mount (behar) Sinai (…)” (Leviticus 25:1)

This is the place from where the word of the Creator to Israel is mentioned, even though Sinai has been evident since the Israelites left Egypt. Let’s reflect on the significance of this particular space where Moses, our highest awareness of the Creator, is in direct contact with Him.

Indeed there is a high place in our consciousness far above the material aspects of life. It is a place from where we can perceive, conceive, understand, and set the way to function and relate to all dimensions of life in this world. Sinai is the mount that later becomes the moving Tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem as the places where the Divine Presence embraces Israel.

It is the place where we leave behind materialistic illusions in order to be fully aware of God’s love in our material and spiritual life.

It is in the mount, the highest level of our consciousness, that we embrace God’s love as our true essence and identity, and from where we exercise this identity. In this awareness we understand our presence in the Promised Land and the meaning of the Shabbat, both for us and for our land.

“(…) When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Shabbat to the Lord.” (25:2)

In this context the land, the people and the Creator are meant to be united through the Shabbat.

“And the Shabbat-produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, and for your servant and for your maid, and for your hired servant and for the settler by your side that sojourn with you; and for your cattle, and for the beasts that are in your land, shall all the increase thereof be for food.” (25:6-7)

This food comes from the Shabbat.

The Shabbat along with the Torah are the most complex divine gifts to Israel, and we must know them and experience them as much as we can because they are the arms that embrace us with the love of God.

Let’s inquire why the Shabbat is being so zealously protected with more than 39 fences, and take a look of what truly is behind those walls that our sages order us to guard. Is it really a time and a space that we protect every week, or something that transcends the limits of our thought which we must learn to conceive as part of who we are.

The Shabbat and the Torah as the divine sustenance that keeps us truly alive in God’s love, opposite to living in the death that ego’s fantasies and illusions represent in the reality of this material world.

The Shabbat-produce that feeds every aspect and dimension of our consciousness represented by our knowledge, skills, talents and abilities, the “servants”, “maids” and “settlers” along with the traits and qualities represented by the cattle and the beasts of our land, as the expressions of the awareness of God’s love in our life.

It is the produce of this love in who we are and what we do that makes us fructify and be plentiful as long as we trust the Creator as the truly sole sustenance of all that exists.

In this awareness we materialize God’s love by following His ways.

“And you shall not wrong one another, but you shall revere your God; because I am the Lord your God. Therefore you shall do My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety.” (25:17-18)

This safety is only provided by our trust in His love. After all we are His guests in His Creation.

“(…) because the land is Mine, because you are strangers and settlers with Me.” (25:23)

The following commandments (25:24-54) are all related to how we manifest love as our common bond with each other, by caring for each other, respecting each other, helping each other, and protecting each other.

“And if your brother be waxen poor, and his means fail with you; then you shall uphold him: as a stranger and a settler shall he live with you.” (25:35)

God’s love is asking our love to follow His ways.

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

The portion ends with the reiterated commandment to avoid materialistic fantasies and illusions as the idols that separate us from our true identity and permanent connection to God.

“You shall not make idols for yourselves, nor shall you set up a statue or a monument for yourselves. And in your land you shall not place a pavement stone on which to prostrate yourselves, for I am the Lord, your God.” (26:1)

This time the commandment is related to our land as the awareness of our oneness with God’s love, where our Shabbat and our Sanctuary are included.

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

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 Zefat.
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