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