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Behar-Bechukotai 5775

Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25-27 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  How does one figure out what he wants out of life, his purpose, what would truly give him satisfaction and happiness? Our sages tell us that if we want to answer these questions and make the most of our life, we should do a nightly cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of our life.

Before you go to bed, sit for a few minutes in the quiet and ask yourself (and answer) four questions: 1) What am I living for? 2) What did I do towards my goal today? 3) What did I do counter to my goal today? 4) What is something that is more important to live for? Do that every night before you go to sleep and you have a guarantee of making more out of your life.

There is an old witticism, "Remember, you are unique -- just like everyone else." The fact is that while each and every human being is precious and special, there are inner aspirations which are common to all of us. One of my goals with the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is to help people reach their potential -- to be all they can and to get the most out of life. In line with this goal, I present to you The Universals -- needs and desires common to mankind. If you recognize that these are beliefs or values that are a part of you, then focus on how you could lead your life towards greater fulfillment by living them.

The Universal Beliefs Common to Mankind

  1. We All Need Meaning. Did you ever ask yourself, "What is it all about?" "What is the point of it all?" Life is more than contentment. No one aspires to emulate a cow contented to graze and lie in the sun.
  2. We Are Not Fulfilling Our Potential. No matter what we accomplish, we feel we could do more. We feel that we have a greater potential than doing just the mundane.
  3. We All Want To Be Great. Nobody wants to be mediocre. We want to be special.
  4. We Turn To God For Help. If you turn to God in a pinch, then don't wait for the pinch. Ask yourself, "How do I develop a relationship with the Almighty?" and "What does God want me to do with my life to reach my potential?"
  5. We Want To Be Good. People are willing to die to be good. If there is something you would be willing to die for, then it is worth living for it. Figure out what you should be living for.
  6. We Feel Responsible For the World. If you ask someone, "What are you doing to stop the genocide in Rawanda?" he'll answer, "What can I do about it?" He won't say, "It's not my problem." Everyone knows that it's our problem. Everyone knows that we are responsible for the world and others ... we just don't know what to do or are overwhelmed by the responsibility.

Questions to Help You
Get in Touch With Your Life:

  1. You dreamed at 20 what you would like to do or be. Are you living that dream?
  2. What would you want said at your eulogy?
  3. Who is your hero? Why?
  4. When do you feel most meaningful?
  5. If you could make a difference, what would you do?

Combine the Universals and the above questions with the nightly accounting ... and you will be on your way to greatness ... and a much more meaningful life!


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Torah Portion of the week

Behar-Bechukosai, Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34

Behar begins with the laws of Shemitah, the Sabbatical year, where the Jewish people are commanded not to plant their fields or tend to them in the seventh year. Every 50th year is the Yovel, the Jubilee year, where agricultural activity is also proscribed.

These two commandments fall into one of the seven categories of evidence that God gave the Torah. If the idea is to give the land a rest, then do not plant one-seventh of the land each year. To command an agrarian society to completely stop cultivating every 7th year one has to be either God or a meshugenah (crazy).

Also included in this portion: redeeming land which was sold, to strengthen your fellow Jew when his economic means are faltering, not to lend to your fellow Jew with interest, the laws of indentured servants. The portion ends with the admonition to not make idols, to observe the Shabbat and to revere the Sanctuary.

The second portion for this week, Bechukosai, begins with the multitude of blessings you will receive for keeping the commandments of the Torah. (Truly worth reading!) It also contains the Tochachah, words of admonition, "If you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments..." There are seven series of seven punishments each. Understand that God does not punish for punishment's sake; He wants to get our attention so that we will introspect, recognize our errors and correct our ways. God does not wish to destroy us or annul His covenant with us. He wants us to know that there are consequences for our every action; He also wants to get our attention so that we do not stray so far away that we assimilate and disappear as a nation. I highly recommend reading Lev. 26:14-45 and Deut. 28.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And when you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another" (Leviticus 25:14).

The Sforno (to verse 17) comments that the Almighty is God of the buyer and God of the seller and He does not want anyone to cheat a buyer or a seller.

When selling something to another person or when buying from someone, if you keep in mind that the Creator is also that person's God you will be very careful not to deceive him in any manner. If the son of an emperor or of a president of a powerful nation would purchase something from you or sell you something, you would be extremely careful not to cheat him. Either you would have respect for his father and out of that respect you would be honest with him or you would fear retribution if you would deceive him -- and his father found out!

This should be our attitude in our monetary dealings with other people. The Almighty is their Heavenly Father and He commands you to be honest with them. Either out of respect for the Almighty or out of fear of Him, you should be meticulously careful not to cheat another person in any way.


Candle Lighting Times

May 15
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:59
Guatemala 6:05 - Hong Kong 6:37 - Honolulu 6:44
J'Burg 5:10 - London 8:27 - Los Angeles 7:30
Melbourne 5:02 - Mexico City 7:46 - Miami 7:41
New York 7:48 - Singapore 6:48 - Toronto 8:18

Quote of the Week

Don't waste time.
It is the stuff that life is made of.



In Loving Memory of

Lily Frisch

May the Almighty
watch over her family


In Loving Memory of

Otto Herczig

May the Almighty
comfort his family



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