This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube.

This week’s we study Parashat Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2).

Watch the videos.

* This week’s parasha starts out with the commandment of the Sabbatical year of rest for the land (Shmita), which has rarely been observed in Jewish history (2 Chronicles 36:21) because of its impractical nature.

* Every 50 years is the Jubilee year, the year of freedom. It does not sound practical and has rarely been observed in Jewish history.

* Torah does not want a permanent upper class and underclass.

* Torah expects people will own property.

* Poor people in Lev. 25 do not need to feel ashamed. There is no mention of charity or compassion. You don’t take care of people out of your feelings. You do it out of responsibility. During the Great Depression, it was rare for Jews to go on welfare. The community took care of its own. Free loan societies and the like.

* We’ll talk about the Agriprocessors case. How did Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin get 27 years in prison when most murderers don’t get that long of a sentence?

In 2003, I interviewed Stephen Bloom, author of the book Postville. I also spoke with journalist Jennie Rothenberg. Here’s an essay on the lucrative business of importing cheap labor from overseas.

From Wikipedia:

Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin (born October 6, 1959), an ultra-Orthodox Jew of the Lubavitcher hasidic movement, is a former executive officer and vice president of Agriprocessors, a now-bankrupt slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa formerly owned by his father, Aaron Rubashkin. During his directorship of the plant, Agriprocessors grew into the largest kosher meat producer in the United States, but was also cited for issues involving animal treatment, food safety, environmental safety, child labor, and hiring of illegal workers.
In November 2009, Rubashkin was convicted of 86 counts of financial fraud, including bank fraud, mail and wire fraud and money laundering. In June 2010, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison. In a separate trial, he was acquitted of knowingly hiring underage workers. He is currently serving his sentence in Otisville, New York. In January 2011, his lawyers filed an appeal. To date, 42 members of the US House of Representatives have sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder, petitioning him to investigate the Rubashkin case.

About Luke Ford

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