Shabbat Shalom! – Behar-Bechukotai

Image: One of the mountains traditionally thought to be Mt. Sinai, this one in present-day Egypt. Photo by tamerlan/wikimedia.

What a mouthful! This week’s double portion has a long tongue-twisting name. Behar means “on the mountain” and it refers to Mount Sinai, where God spoke these words to Moses.

Bechukotai means “by my decrees” – chook¬†is the Hebrew word for a commandment that does not have a logical explanation, it’s simply a commandment. For instance, while people have tried to come up with justifications for the laws of kashrut, in actual fact the only reason the Bible gives for keeping kosher is that God commanded it. The laws of kashrut are chookim (plural of chook.)

These two portions contain around 36 commandments, both mishpatim (laws with logical explanations) and chookim (laws without explanations.) They also close out the book of Leviticus.¬†Thus we leave the Book of regulations for the Levites and next week we’ll be back in Numbers, or Bemidbar – in the wilderness!

Here are some divrei Torah from teachers around the internet this week:

Natural Miracles by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Patriarchy and Priesthood Join Forces to Undervalue Women’s Work by Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

Reduced to Poverty by Rabbi Nina J Mizrahi

Giving Charity is Not Easy Business by Rabbi Marc Katz

God, Too, is Lonely by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Shabbat shalom!


Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Hamaqom | The Place in Berkeley, CA.

One thought on “Shabbat Shalom! – Behar-Bechukotai”

Comments or Questions? Speak up!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.