Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
The "Behar" Torah portion begins with Shabbat and ends with Shabbat. It begins with "Shabbat of the Land" or the shmita (Sabbatical) year. The entire year is a Shabbat for the earth. It's an opportunity to let go, to relax, to desist from working the land. To put the ceaseless financial hustle on pause. The Torah portion ends with the Shabbat that comes each week, a day in which we detach ourselves from the outside word in order to connect to ourselves. It's a day when we desist from racing after money, stop obsessing over Internet "likes" and other cyber attractions, and simply rest from everything, in order to look within.
Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks wrote that this Torah portion presents a great challenge, especially for the Jew today, in the convenient and technologically advanced world in which we are privileged to live. Today it is much more difficult to refrain from working, creating, and accumulating. At the height of material success, when everything is accessible, available, and fun, it's not easy to make the decision to stop and rest for a while. Rabbi Sacks expressed himself on this topic as follows:
"The true challenges with which the Children of Israel will need to cope will not be slavery but freedom, not poverty but abundance, not wandering but the comforts of home."
This is our test in a 24/7 world where all good things are at our fingertips: to stop, to pause, and to reflect.
• These words are dedicated to the ascent of the soul of Yehuda Guetta, who died last night from wounds sustained in a drive-by shooting in Samaria.