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July 14, 2024

BaHar (On Mount Sinai) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Leviticus, 25:1-26:2

This Week’s Torah Portion | 6 May – 12 May, 2018 – 21 Lyar – 27 Lyar, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Bahar (On Mount Sinai), deals primarily with what appears to be laws of finance. It begins with Moses being on Mount Sinai, receiving from the Creator the Mitzva (commandment) of Shmita (omission of cultivation) of the land every seventh year, and the Mitzvot (plural of Mitzva) of Yovel (jubilee, 50th year anniversary). The Creator gives His blessing to it so that the sixth year will be so productive that enough produce will grow to last for the next three years, to observe the Mitzvot of Shmita and Yovel without worrying about sustenance.

Later, the portion details laws of selling a house or property, redemption of a house or a field from one person to another, laws of the lot of the Levites, forbidding selling of towns or houses that belong to them, laws of selling a person from Israel to slavery, how to treat such a person, and laws prohibiting idols, pillars, and figured stones.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The laws that this portion details are spiritual laws. Shmita [1] is a profound and sacred matter. It exists only in the land of Israel, in a desire aimed toward the Creator, in order to bestow, toward love of others. The Shmita can occur in a desire only in a process of correcting the soul.

The soul consists of six Sephirot HGT NHY (HesedGevuraTifferetNetzahHod, and Yesod). The seventh Sephira is like Sabbath, Shmita. Also, seven times seven is 49, and the Yovel (jubilee, 50th year anniversary) in the Omer count. These are the degrees we climb.

We cannot correct the seventh quality, Malchut, only the six qualities included in it. Therefore, we leave it and avoid correction, and this is the observing of the Sabbath, similar to observing the Shmita. Following the corrections is a state defined as “He who labored on Sabbath Eve will eat on Sabbath,” opposite, “And he who did not labor on Sabbath Eve, from where will he eat on Sabbath?”[2]

On Sabbath, everything one has received from the corrections made during the six workdays comes true. The correction permeates the seventh day and appears in it. This is why on Sabbath everything is twofold: the meals and the customs, as is the case with a year of Shmita. On that year a person must work and live in such a way that at the end of the sixth year there will be enough crop to last for the seventh year, as well, during which one does not work, and also enough for the eighth year, until new crops are harvested. This is why the profits on the sixth year must be threefold the normal.

When we rise in degrees as we correct the soul, we skip the three Behinot (discernments), 1-2-3, and only Behina Dalet (no. 4) appears. It is impossible to correct Malchut; it is only possible to leap over it because it collects and gives us the results of what happened earlier.

This is why it does not mean we do not make profits on Sabbath, Shmita, or Yovel. On the contrary, there are rules specifically for those years making it possible to sell, buy, and make other corrections that cannot be made on other years. Specifically on the seventh year and its products (math.), special conditions appear where if one has worked and gained in the previous states, the profit is received now. These are not years of empty-handedness, but rather the time of reception of the reward for the labor we have given before.

These rules concern the Shmita. Concerning buying and selling of houses, we must understand that in spirituality, a house is the “wrapping” of a person. Our inner structure consists of Mocha (marrow), Atzamot (bones), Gidin (tendons), Bassar (flesh/muscle), and Or (skin). Another way to put it is, Shoresh (root), Neshama (soul), Guf (body), Levush (clothing), and Heichal (house/hall). Levush is the clothes, and Heichal is all that is outside of us.

Specifically during Shmita, it is possible to correct desires that are very big on these degrees, such as selling of houses, Levites, etc. It is not simple to reach these degrees, especially the laws concerning Israeli slaves: buying and selling them, freeing them from slavery and passing over, or making an idol and an image, which is a high degree.

The degrees of Shmita and Yovel belong to the degree of Bina. Our entire correction concerns joining Bina with MalchutBina is the quality of bestowal, known as “desiring mercy,” while Malchut is the egoistic will to receive, which is initially corrupt. The goal is to connect the two, as it is written, “And the two of them went” (Ruth, 1:19), written about Ruth and Naomi.

The portion is called BaHar (On Mount Sinai) because specifically when a person climbs toward the Creator, to the degree of Bina, one receives the laws of the Sabbath, Shmita, and Yovel, which symbolize our egoistic will to receive with the qualities of the Creator, the qualities of Bina.

The symbol of Sabbath, the Yovel, and the Shmita, is the connection between Malchut and Bina, when Malchut is included in the degree of Bina, the quality of bestowal. From that bonding—the connection between the degrees of Bina and Malchut, while prohibiting to touch the will to receive and correct—emerge all the laws of the Sabbath, the prohibition on performing the 39 works, the corrections of Malchut.

Questions and Answers

For all the efforts of governments and economists, we cannot resolve the global crisis. We are unsuccessfully looking for a solution. What does the economy reflect today?

The economy reflects our ego. We are not working properly with our egos. If we direct them even slightly toward others’ benefit, to bonding, love, mutual guarantee, and sharing, we will begin to feel its benefits in every realm of life.

We must understand that the laws mentioned in this portion were given long before modern economy was established. At that time there were no banks, investments, or multinational trade. People lived off the land. All of a sudden they were told to stop tilling their lands and stop harvesting its crops.

This poses an existential question, seemingly stemming from an irrational approach to the world. It stems from the fact that we do not follow the rules of the nations, but the rules of Israel. Israel means Yashar El (straight to God). This is why we must perform corrections on Malchut after its connection to the degree of Bina, to the superior quality of bestowal, to the upper light. We must let the upper light work.

On a year of Shmita a person leaves one’s desire and does not correct it. Unless he receives powers from above, he will not have the strength to correct it. Therefore, a person must correct the degree in which the light gives from a higher degree, from Bina, and fills one up. Only then can one correct the desires in the soul using the above-mentioned six qualities HGT NHY. And then again one must be filled by the degree of Bina, receive the power from her, and subsequently become corrected.

Therefore, as was mentioned above, Sabbath comes as a result of the six days of work: “he who did not labor on Sabbath Eve, from where will he eat on Sabbath?” Moreover, it “charges” us with strength for the coming week, for the next correction, the next degree. Each week is a new degree, and the same goes for Shmita. The omissions do not mean that a person eats what he or she has sown before. Rather, it is a summary of the former, a preparation for the next degree, the six years ahead. If we kept this in spirituality we would be in a wonderful situation.

What practical advice can we give economists to improve the situation?

We can improve the situation only through inner work, when we have a genuine desire to correct our desires and raise them to the degree of Bina, “desiring mercy,” or at least to the attitude, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend,”[3] so we could at least avoid harming or exploiting others. But ideally, it should be “love your neighbor as yourself.”[4]

What will the new economy look like in the near future?

There is nothing that can be done. The economic situation in Europe, for example, is very bad. Corrections are possible, but only by educating first.

First we need to reeducate people through Integral Education, which provides an explanation about the circularity of nature and our interconnectedness. By understanding it we establish the first condition—Arvut (mutual guarantee).

We need to raise humanity’s understanding in the following areas: what is happening to us, the kind of world we live in, the challenges we are facing, why they are sent to us, by whom, why we must correct ourselves specifically in this manner, what we gain by it, and if we have free choice in the matter.

How can we do this work?

We need to do it in our relations with all other people. We need to create the infrastructure from our corrected desires toward others, and so do others, mutually, so that Godliness will appear in those desires.

So in order to solve economic problems in the new era we must first build a social infrastructure throughout the world?

Yes, because otherwise nothing will happen. As we can see, throughout the world no one can reach any agreements. There are even no plans or fantasies of reaching one. The world does not know how to solve the situation and exists only by accumulating debt.

How do you “translate” the laws specified in this portion into a social infrastructure?

We are talking about desires in ShoreshNeshamaGufLevushHeichal, or MochaAtzamotGidinBassar, and Or. Our world is only a replication of our corrupted desires over the light, similar to black and white images we see in movies. The black is absence of white. It is we who cast shade on the light and darken it. We need to neutralize ourselves so everything is light, and then we will be able to maintain ourselves in a complete and eternal world.

From The Zohar: Then the Land Shall Have a Sabbath for the Lord

Hey is rest of the upper and lower. This is why there is the upper Hey de HaVaYaHBina, and the lower Hey de HaVaYaHMalchut. The upper Hey is rest of the upper ones, and the lower Hey is rest of the lower ones. The upper Hey is seven years seven times, the forty-nine gates of Bina, and the lower Hey is only seven years. The lower one is called Shmita, and the upper one is called Yovel (Jubilee, fifty-year anniversary).

Zohar for AllBaHar (On Mount Sinai), item 7

Everything stems from Malchut and Bina, between whom there are 49 degrees, as we count in the Omer Count between Passover and the festival of Shavuot. All our corrections are in Malchut, which is a collection of desires we must elevate to the degree of Bina, desiring mercy.

It is not the end of the process, only its middle. By making this correction we make the correction of “desiring mercy,” as Old Hillel said, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend.”[3] However, it is only the middle of the way. The rest of it concerns elevating the degree of Bina to the degree of Keter, which is “love your neighbor as yourself.”[4] This is additional work, which forms a term from which onward a person will yield crop.

How can you explain to a contemporary person that every seven years you have to stop producing?

If a person is not reared toward it, he or she will not be able to understand it, nor will it be possible to explain about it. Education must come first.

Education divides into two sections: learning, and education. Learning (provision of information) entails explaining about the process humanity is going through, the system of providence and guidance, building this world in accord with the upper world, and the rules and forces that operate our world. We must learn how these forces evoke in each of us the Reshimo (recollection), the spiritual gene that develops us. We need to understand the direction, purpose, and goal we will reach as we develop from day to day and from moment to moment. We need to know how we can aim our fate—as though with two reigns—to arrive in peace at the final, perfect state.

Without receiving an explanation about the entire system, the world we are in, the physics of the world, and how it functions, how it moves, we will not be able to understand it. People cannot simply be told, “Stop working.”

It is done today; we know there are foods such as bread that are made not on a year of Shmita.

Indeed, but you cannot observe something to the fullest before it is kept in its spiritual root.

From The Zohar: The Slave and the Son

The meaning of those two degrees, son and slave, is found in the words, “And He said unto me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’” “And He said unto me, ‘You are My servant” is the degree of slave, left line, Malchut. “Israel” is the degree of son, right line, ZA. When they are included as one, it is written, “In whom I will be glorified.”

Zohar for AllBaHar (On Mount Sinai), item 85

On the one hand, a slave of the Creator is a high degree. On the other hand, “You are the sons of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy, 14:1) is also a high degree, and both connect in the middle line. Comparing the degrees is similar to the written Torah vs. the oral Torah, to law vs. rule, to Zeir Anpin vs. Malchut. Here, too, we must come to a state where the degree of slave and the degree of son do not contradict, but rather connect with one another, reaching the middle line, the Masach of Hirik. This is how we advance.

On the one hand a slave is a very high degree. It was said about Moses that he was the Lord’s servant. On the other hand, it is a degree of lowness. We also know that there are laws prohibiting selling of slaves. How does it all fit together?

Man is in the middle, neither a son nor a slave, but both. Man contains both the right and the left lines. The appellations refer to a working person, who advances toward the Creator, where each appellation points to a unique manner of connection to the revelation of the Creator.

[1] Omission of cultivation of land every seventh year.
[2] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Avoda Zarah, 3a.
[3] Masechet Shabbat, 31a.
[4] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.

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