Parshat Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34)

We are concluding the book of Leviticus with Torah portions Behar and Bechukotai. Listen here.

* Today is Lag B’Omer. Wikipedia: “While the Counting of the Omer is a semi-mourning period, all restrictions of mourning are lifted on this 33rd day of the Omer. As a result, weddings, parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly scheduled to coincide with this day among Ashkenazi Jews. Families go on picnics and outings. Children go out to the fields with their teachers with bows and rubber-tipped arrows. Tachanun, the prayer for special Divine mercy on one’s behalf is not said, because when God is showing one a “smiling face,” so to speak, as He does especially on the holidays, there is no need to ask for special mercy.”

* Jewish New York Times columnist David Brooks has married his former researcher. From CJR: “Brooks reveals little of his personal life, either in columns, books, or interviews. He threads Christian theology through his recent work, yet won’t say whether he has converted to anything (though he’ll say vaguely that he’s integrating with a new religious community). He is divorced from his wife of 27 years, Sarah, but doesn’t explain what role that break up, or the reasons for it, played in his moral awakening.”

* You will notice all these glowing Christian sermons about Anne Snyder exerting her Christian influence over the Jew David Brooks. You rarely hear Jews boasting about Jewish influence. Jews try to wield their influence quietly. When Joe Biden talked about Jewish influence on American culture, it was not something that Jews tend to do. If Anne were Jewish and David Christian, you would not have Jewish sermons boasting about Anne exerting her Jewish influence. We don’t think about Christians having Jewish secretaries (even though it happens). We think of Jews as bosses with non-Jews as humble secretaries. Jews don’t like to work for people.

* Can you imagine implementing these laws in a diverse society? The result would be chaos. The Torah state only contains Jews as citizens. Torah makes no room for non-Jews to be citizens in Israel.

* These Torah portions say that a Jew cannot become a slave to his fellow Jew and can’t be sold to gentiles. I wonder how non-Jewish slaves affected Israel? Did they revolt? Commit lots of crime?

* July 15, 2011:

A white fisherman, weary of growing competition from Vietnamese immigrants, had invited the Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to Seabrook, Texas. With a new shrimping season on the horizon, the Vietnamese shrimpers and the Klan appeared to be on a collision course.

But 30 years ago today, a Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit put a stop to the terror campaign when a judge issued a preliminary injunction that stopped the Klan’s activities and led to a further order that shut down its paramilitary training bases. It was a significant victory for the SPLC – but more so for immigrants pursing the American dream.

“The hard-working Vietnamese fishermen came here looking for a better life after the Vietnam War, an opportunity to pursue the American dream like generations of immigrants who came before them,” said SPLC Founder Morris Dees. “And they were terrorized by white supremacists who objected to their presence.”

You can’t expect nomads to have the same respect for the land as blood and soil types.

* Amren: Canada has been piously resurrecting ancient treaties with Indian tribes and also wreaking havoc on established commercial practices. In September, for example, the Supreme Court decided that on the basis of a 1760 treaty Micmac Indians have the right to fish in the Atlantic and in eastern Canada out of season and without a license. White fishermen, some of whom had paid the equivalent of C$200,000 were furious. (Canada was a colony in 1760. One wonders who the parties to the treaty were?) The Micmac also have unlimited rights to make a living from “gathering,” so they can also get into the forestry business without permits or red tape.

A 1997 Supreme Court decision held that Indians have priority rights to Canadian natural resources, and must be compensated if anyone else exploits them. The government is now negotiating a C$490 million payoff to just one British Columbia tribe, the Nisga. One accounting company has calculated that the province of British Columbia alone will end up shelling out C$40 to 50 billion to Indians. There are only 700,000 Indians in the whole country, so C$40 billion shared among them equally is more than C$57,000 per Indian.

Apparently it takes a non-white to complain about this. Gurmant Grewal, an immigrant from India and a Reform Party MP, says: “No longer will hard work be the determining factor whether one can make a living in forestry, fishing or mining. Success will be based on race.” (Randall Palmer, Generous Rulings for Canada’s Natives Spur Backlash, Reuters, Oct. 24, 1999.)


The miners, traipsing single file along a plank walkway, descend a gentle grade into the tunnel for nearly half a mile before reaching their destination: a 400-foot-long, 1,000-ton earth-chewing beast, known as the tunnel boring machine.

Sometimes called moles, sometimes sandhogs, the men — there are no women on this shift — belong to a tight confederacy. They can see themselves doing little else for a living. They like being left alone to do their job. They like the variety of challenges, the on-the-spot repairs. They like the community.

“There are no bad people down here,” said one miner. “We would throw them out if there were.”

Why can’t above-group communities do this as well? Religious communities can do this, but explicitly racial communities are illegal.

* The Jubilee laws are utopian laws. We don’t have much evidence that they were practiced, while the Shmita (Sabbatical) laws were practiced and still are in Israel.

* Greg Johnson says 68 minutes in: “Americans don’t get European identity. Americans are people who left Europe because they were religious fanatics or economic men. They were rootless, they were willing to root themselves up, cross an ocean, risk their lives to get away and start a new life. That selects for rootlessness. We don’t fight for our freedom, we run away for our freedom. We avoid conflicts.

“Europe is dominated by the people who didn’t leave. We don’t understand them because they have a stronger sense of rootedness and identity. When you go to Europe, you will hear ordinary Europeans complain about foreigners in ways that are astonishing to Americans, and the number of foreigners they are dealing with is comparatively small.”

“The level of ethnocentrism among Europeans is much higher than in the United States and their willingness to complain and to act is much higher. I can envision the United States becoming majority non-white, a Brazil… because of the unique rootlessness, shiftlessness and individualism and lack of identity and gravitas and seriousness in the American character. Europeans don’t have those problems to the degree Americans do. They are reacting more soon and more intensely to the ethnic displacement than Americans are. I don’t think there will be European countries that will become majority non-white and Muslim. The question is how that won’t happen. When you are fighting for survival, that licenses you to do anything to resist.”

* Tonga practiced laws similar to Leviticus 25. Jacob Milgrom: “To be sure, this island paradise is so far unaffected by racial or religious conflict…” Yeah, the island is 97% Tongan (along with 1.7% Euronesians, 1.0% European, and 1.0% East Asian). No diversity of races means no racial conflict. If America had the same racial homogeneity as Tonga, it too would have no racial conflict. When you see white towns in Middle America, they too lack racial conflict.

* Milgrom: “…countries employing some of the Jubilee provisions have experienced spectacular economic growth…” Examples: South Korea, Taiwan. Was it the Jubilee laws or was it the natural genius and industriousness of the people or both? If sub-saharan Africa implemented some version of the Jubilee laws, would it become prosperous? I doubt it. Israel brought in 120,000 Ethiopians and they continue to behave more like Ethiopians than Ashkenazi Jews. They have more in common with other blacks than with Israel’s Jews.

* Milgrom on Lev. 25:42: “Implied is that Israel owes no obligation to any other power but God.”

* Lev. 26:3. “If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments, then I will provide your rains in their time…” The land of Israel demands a certain level of holiness and if that is not sustained, the land will vomit out its inhabitants. This approach is infinitely flexible. If you get vomited out of the land, you can always find fault in how your people failed to observe God’s Torah. This approach says your destiny is in your hands. This is the approach of faith. Faith sustains the individual and the community, but it gets in the way when you try to analyze the world because faith is highly subjective. By contrast, observing that the world consists of different groups with different interests needs no faith. You can then see reality and you can see group conflicts but it is not as comforting as looking through the world with the lens of faith.

It wasn’t Jews with faith, by and large, who established the modern state of Israel, it was the Jews without faith. The Jews with faith were content to wait for the Messiah to recreate the Jewish state.

* Lev. 26:42: “I will remember my covenant with Jacob and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the Land.” This is God’s promise to the patriarchs of blood and soil, land and seed. Blood and soil is not an originally German concept.

Wikipedia: “Blood and Soil (German: Blut und Boden) refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent blood (of a folk) and territory. It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places a high value on the virtues of rural living.”

Artscroll commentary: “Eretz Yisrael has a special status because of the holiness that does not permit it to tolerate sinners in its midst. Therefore, when Israel repents and becomes worthy of redemption, God remembers the Land by not allowing gentiles to remain on it.”

This sounds similar to what white nationalists want — states for whites only.

* Lev. 26:43:44: Milgrom: “Not only does Israel have to repent of its sins and thereby motivate God to recall his covenants, but it also has to atone to the land for neglecting its sabbaticals. It is almost as if there are two independent agencies requiring reparation — God and the land.”

This reminds me of 12-step work. Step 1-3, 11-12 are about restoring your relationship to God and to your self, while steps 4-10 are about restoring your relationship with other people. Both are necessary for recovery.

Artscroll: “Meshech Chochmah…Then why are they [Jews] exiled [from gentile lands]? Because sometimes this is the only way to prevent them from becoming so assimilated that they disappear as a nation.”

* Lev. 27:1-8. Different valuations for men and women and for different ages. Women, on average, consume as many government services as they pay for in tax. Men by contrast pay far more tax than they consume in government services.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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