BEHAR/BECHUKOSAI (Leviticus, 25:1-27:34) — “The Palestinians are Right!”

Israel is ours.

From time immemorial, the Land of Israel has been inhabited by Jews.  There is no such thing as Palestine.  The so-called “Palestinians” need to wake up to that fact, get a life, and move on.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, dismiss this notion as wishful thinking on the part of the Jews.  They continue to argue that there is no proof that the Land is ours.

The Palestinians claim that the Temple Mount, the holiest spot on earth to Jews, has no historical connection to the Jewish People.  To augment that claim, they have, for years, been illegally destroying and disposing of Temple-era artifacts that they dig up on the Temple Mount.

Of course, as we know, the Palestinians are wrong.  G-d promised that the Land of Israel would be given to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Joshua led our People across the Jordan River, and we inherited the Promised Land.  It is ours, always has been, and always will be.  Right?

After all, let us look at the famous question and answer quoted in Rashi’s commentary at the very beginning of the Torah.  Rabbi Yitzchak asks why the Torah begins with Genesis.  Since the Torah is primarily a Book of Laws that tell us how to live our lives, it should have begun in Exodus, Chapter 12, where we are introduced to a multitude of Commandments.  He answers that it is to prevent the nations of the world from calling us robbers.  There were seven Canaanite nations inhabiting the Land, and Joshua & Company kicked them out!  However, once we read Genesis, we see that G-d created the world, and gave it to whomever he saw fit.  The Canaanites were permitted to live there for a while, but G-d promised the Land to the Patriarchs, and evicted the Canaanites.

This week’s Torah Reading contains some of the Laws pertaining to possession of the Land of Israel.  Land in Israel cannot be sold permanently; in the Jubilee year, all land reverts to its original owner rather.  The “sale” price is dependent upon how many years are left until the 50-year Jubilee.  Also, after land is sold, the seller or his relative is entitled to “redeem”, or buy back, the land:

“The Land may not be sold permanently, since the Land is Mine.  You are foreigners and temporary dwellers with Me.”  (Leviticus, 25:23)

This verse appears to be contradicted by another verse:

As for the Heavens, they are G-d’s Heavens, but as for the Earth, He has given it to mankind.  (Psalms, 115:16)

So who owns the Earth?  Mankind, as King David writes in Psalms, or G-d, as He proclaims in Leviticus?

The Sforno writes that there is no contradiction.  The Earth does, in fact, belong to man; it is a gift from G-d.  However, theLand ofIsrael is an exception to that rule.  G-d never gave away theLand ofIsrael.

Rabbi Elazar Shach was bothered by this statement.  How can the Sforno say that G-d never gave away the Land of Israel?  Didn’t G-d promise the Land to Abraham?  Didn’t we inherit the Land from our ancestors?

Rabbi Shach answered that our connection with the Land of Israel is different that the connections of other nations with their lands.  Our inheritance of the Land was conditional:

If you will be careful to heed My commandments … you and your children will long endure on the Land that G-d promised to your ancestors.  (Deuteronomy,11: 13, 21)

However, on the other hand:

if your heart will be tempted to go astray … you will quickly vanish from the good Land that G-d is giving you.  (Ibid, 16-17)


As Rabbi Yitzchak said above, the Land of Israel was home to the Canaanites for as long as that arrangement suited G-d’s purposes.  Once the Canaanites began to engage in acts of sexual and spiritual perversion, they forfeited their right to live there.  (See Ibid, 18:3-28)

Joshua and his army conquered the Land of Israel.  The Israel Defense Forces (usually) defeated the Arab armies who sought and seek to drive us from our Homeland.  But the military conquest of today does not guarantee defeat of the insurgency of tomorrow.

How sad that every decadent behavior that American and European society have accepted has been celebrated in Israelas well.  Drug abuse and loose morals abound in certain segments of Israeli society.  Is that why G-d shlepped us across the Sinai desert?  For this?!

Or, perhaps, there’s another reason.  Maybe G-d allowed the establishment of the State of Israel so that European refugees would have a place to go where they could live as Jews.  Or so that American Jews could go and raise their children in a culture where intermarriage is not the accepted norm.  Or so that the air of Jerusalem and Benei Brak would resound with the music of the Torah study of thousands of students.

G-d told us how to inherit the Land of Israel.  He also told us how to lose it.   And how not to.


Support Israel.  Buy Israeli Bonds.  Encourage your Congressman to support the only pro-Western democracy in theMiddle East.

Then do the important stuff.  Study Torah.  Observe Shabbos.  Keep Kosher.  Be honest, moral, and ethical.

Support Israel.  Live a Torah lifestyle.  It’s the REAL Zionism.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz


From the Archives 

(Sometimes the Torah Portions of Behar and Bechukosai are read in the same week, and sometimes they are read in separate weeks.  To avoid confusion, both are listed here) 

From Behar, the first of this week’s two Torah Portions 

“The Palestinians are Right!” (2010)

 Israel is ours.

From time immemorial, the Land of Israel has been inhabited by Jews.  There is no such thing as Palestine.  The so-called “Palestinians” need to wake up to that fact, get a life, and move on.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, dismiss this notion as wishful thinking on the part of the Jews.  They continue to argue that there is no proof that the Land is ours…

Of course, as we know, the Palestinians are wrong … Right? …


Read more.


“The Price of Tea in China” (2006)

“…  For six years you may sow your field, and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and you may gather its crop.  But the seventh year will be a complete rest for the Land…”

…  A farmer works his field for six years, trying his hardest to produce an income to support his family.  Now we tell him to take a year off.

Take a year off?!  How am I gonna eat?!

Good question…

Read more.


“Aharon Moshe — Servant of G-d and His Children” (2005)

… It is customary among Chassidim to bring written requests to righteous people.  All of their needs are written on these “Kvittlach” — notes, and the righteous people are asked to pray to G-d for the fulfillment of these requests.  After the Second World War, there was a dearth of such holy people.

One great Rabbi, the Rebbe of Satmar, of Blessed Memory, was asked what to do.  “Now that so many of our Tzaddikim, righteous people, have been killed, to whom should we bring our requests for blessings?”

The Rebbe gave two answers…

This was not an easy article to write.  (Tears don’t show up on computer screens.)…

Read more.


“Ask a Stupid Question…” (2004)

… CHAYIM: I can’t believe what happened to me today!

YANKEL: What happened?

CHAYIM: A guy came by the office today selling ties.  He showed me some hand-made silk ties.  He told me that they were worth $50, but he was willing to sell them for only $30.  What a bargain!  Twenty dollars off!  I bought five!

YANKEL: That’s great, Chayim!  What’s the problem?  You saved $100!  That’s wonderful!

CHAYIM: Well, not exactly.  As it turned out, they were actually made of polyester, and are available on Ebay for $3 apiece.

YANKEL: Oh…Uh, Chayim…

CHAYIM: Yes, Yankel?

YANKEL:  You, my dear friend, are a jerk.  A naive, stupid fool!  You should be ashamed of yourself!  What’s the matter with you?!  How could you allow yourself to be ripped off like that?!  Boy, that con man must be laughing at you now!

We have just observed two violations of Torah Law…

Read more.


“Free as a Bird” (2002)

We’re all familiar with the famous words on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land…” Many people are not aware that it is actually a quote from the Torah. (Leviticus, 25:10)

…”Proclaim ‘D’ROR’ throughout the land.”

You’ll notice that I left the word “D’ROR” untranslated. Most commentaries give comparable translations… synonymous with the bell-maker’s translation – “Liberty.”

… Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra presents an interesting insight into the word “D’ROR.” … the Dror is a very independent bird. As long as it is in its own nest, it sings to its heart’s content. However, once it is taken into captivity it silently refuses to eat and eventually starves. (“Give me liberty or give me death!”)…

Read more.


From Bechukosai, the second of this week’s two Torah Portions 

“Don’t Just STAND There…” (2009)

We strive to be holy.  It is not an easy task.  The Torah was not given to angels; it was given to human beings with human weaknesses.  Yet, we make the effort.

In our daily prayers, we make reference to the angels in Heaven and the divine symphony of praise that they offer to G-d every day…

The Heavens ring forth with holiness that we mortals cannot even begin to imagine, much less, understand.  Yet we try:

We shall sanctify Your Name in this world, just as they sanctify it in Heaven above, as it is written by Your prophet, “they call one another and say:  ‘Holy, holy, holy..’

The above prayer is recited standing, with our feet together as if they are one foot, just like the angels, about whom it is written, and their legs are one straight leg” (Ezekiel 1:7) and who are referred to as “Standers.” (Zechariah, 3:7)

All this, of course, begs the question: whom are we trying to kid??!

We are simple, mortal human beings.  How can we even contemplate a serious attempt at being like the angels?  Their level of holiness is so far beyond ours that it seems pointless to even make the comparison…

Read more.


“Confessions of a Would-Be Vegetarian” (2005)

… it began to sink in.  Do I really want to KILL my chickens?  Do I really want toEATmy chickens?  After months of watching their antics, running and wing-flapping and squawking around my back yard, making me laugh and giving me eggs, do I really want to put them in a soup pot?…

Read more.


“Your Money or your Wife!” (2003)

How much is a person worth?  What is the dollars-and-cents cash value of a human being? … The Book of Judges tells us the heartbreaking story of Yiftach, whose poor judgment led to a tragedy … Yiftach was praying for success in battle … “If You deliver Ammon into my hands, the first thing that comes out of my house to greet me, I will offer as a sacrifice.” (Judges,11:31).

The Talmud says that Yiftach had made an irresponsible vow.  Not every animal is acceptable as an offering.  If the family cow or his pet lamb had ambled out the door to meet him, either one would have served as a fine Thanksgiving offer on the Altar.  But what would he do if he were greeted by Fido or his daughter’s pet iguana?!

Actually, the scenario was even worse…

Read more.


“Labor Gains” (2001)

Jewish life is all about choices.  We are given the option of choosing the path that G-d wants us to follow, or a path that goes the other way.  Either way, says the Torah, there are consequences to our choices….

We are, of course, proud to be Jewish.  We fulfill Mitzvahs and we recite prayers.  But do we LABOR IN TORAH?  Do we toil and struggle to make Torah the be-all, end-all emphasis of our lives?  Is Torah our lifeblood?  Or is it little more than a cultural appendage, a potpourri of chicken soup, matzah balls and gefilte fish?… There are two types of people who subscribe to my weekly messages…

Read more.


This is the weekly message at   Copyright © 2000-2011 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.


Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel ( and chaplain inMonsey,New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.


If you enjoyed this, send it to a friend.

To subscribe to Torah Talk, send an e-mail to, and type “Subscribe” on the subject line.

To unsubscribe, type “Unsubscribe” on the subject line.

Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: