Written by Ian Maman, who will become a Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat
Behar-Bechukotai is a double portion and each Parsha teaches us very different concepts. In Behar, we learn that every seventh year is like a Shabbat for the land. We are instructed by Hashem to give the land a break. For six years, farmers may work the land, but in the seventh year, we cannot plant or harvest. This year is called Shemitah, and any vegetables and fruit that happen to grow during this time are free for anyone to take. Hashem promises that the sixth year, the year before Shemitah, will be SO bountiful that enough food for not one, not two, but for three years will grow. As a result, farmers and their families will have plenty of food.
In Behar, we also learn that every seven cycles, during the 50th or Jubilee year, all servants are to be set free and all property reverts back to the original land owner. Families who sold their land because of poverty will have their land returned to them. Behar teaches us that even land needs time to rest, refresh and restore itself. We are all a part of this incredible ecosystem, and we have been asked by Hashem to be considerate caretakers of our planet.
In Bechukotai, we read about the blessings Hashem will bestow upon us if we follow His commandments. If we do not keep His commandments and forget about our agreement with Him, many unfortunate things will happen to the Jewish people. In this Parsha, Hashem tells us that his covenant with the Jewish people is eternal. Just as a parent loves and corrects his or her children, Hashem will never turn his back on us. He may punish us, but he will never forget or abandon us.