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Shabbat Parashat Behar Bechukotai 5781

Parashat Hashavua: Different Types of Respite

Harav Yosef Carmel

Sefer Vayikra was given during Bnei Yisrael’s period in the desert. It is therefore telling that the Torah already relates as a given fact the situation in which they are working the fields of Eretz Yisrael, suspending work during Shemitta and Yovel, and following the rules of transactions regarding real estate in the Land among other financial matters. There is already a description of an army that protects the nation’s borders, which can prevent foreign armies, even those not threatening the nation, from passing through.

We just marked Lag BaOmer, which focuses on the Torah of Rabbi Akiva and his disciples, including Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. They took part in the struggle to renew Jewish sovereignty under Bar Kochva’s leadership. We will soon mark the anniversary of the Six Day War, which reached its peak with the liberation of Yerushalayim. This extricated us from dangerously narrow borders and ushered in a period of great development, concretizing and strengthening the State of Israel. Finally, we will reach the holiday of the giving of the Torah.   

Yerushalayim is the political capital of the State of Israel and as such of the entire Am Yisrael. It is the spiritual center and the focus of Am Yisrael’s longings. The process of establishing the State was significantly advanced on 5 Iyar 5708, but also was significantly strengthened on 28 Iyar 5727. The State of Israel without Yerushalayim as its official and practical capital is like a body without a soul. We can demonstrate this from King David as well (David ben Gurion followed his lead).

The Torah sets an interesting time for the building of the Beit Hamikdash, which turned Yerushalayim into the dwelling place of the Divine Presence, which initially benefitted Am Yisrael but eventually (as Yeshayahu prophesied) the entire world. The Torah writes as a precursor for choosing the Beit Hamikdash’s location as follows: “You shall cross the Jordan and inhabit the Land that Hashem your G-d is giving you as an inheritance, and He will give you respite from all of your enemies around you and you will live securely” (Devarim 12:10). Similarly, Shmuel (II, 7) in an introduction to David’s efforts to build the Beit Hamikdash, writes of Hashem giving respite from all of his surrounding enemies, and the prophet Natan agrees with him in principle that this was the time for the project of making Yerushalayim the spiritual center of the nation to commence. It is difficult that the ensuing section of Shmuel (ch. 8-10) provides extensive details of additional wars. So why did David and Natan think that the time for building the Temple had come?

We suggest that respite from enemies does not mean an end to all fighting (which will occur only in the times of Mashiach). Rather the fact that David enjoyed full autonomy and the world viewed Israel as such in his times (see ch. 5) provide sufficient respite, allowing Yerushalayim to be the nation’s political and spiritual center. Then David moved to bring the Holy Ark to the city (ch. 6) and began planning the Beit Hamikdash and dwelling place of the Divine Presence.

Let us pray that the process of our return to national glory will continue from Lag BaOmer to Yom Yerushalayim and finally to Shavuot. May the State of Israel be not only a political anchor for world Jewry but also a place for Hashem’s Presence, which comes when the people willingly accept the Torah.

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We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther

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Iyar 10, 5771


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Tishrei 9 ,5776


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Sivan 17 / Av 20


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Tishrei 20 ,5781


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Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


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bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


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Tevet 16 ,5780


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Cheshvan 13, 5778


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Polin z"l

Tamuz 19,  5778


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Iyar 18 ,5779


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Av 4


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