בהר–בחקותי

This week’s double parsha ends the book of Vayikra / Leviticus, speaking of many themes, including shmittah.  The first parshaBehar, ends with foundational mtizvot (commandments) to be kept, starting with the prohibition of idolatry and keeping the Shabbat.  The text then says “revere my sanctuary, I am Hashem” (26:2).  The Sforno seeks to maintain the relevance of this third commandment in such an august list, even though no centralized sanctuary (Temple) existed at his time.  He wrote: Revere my sanctuary.  [Meaning] the places that are sanctified in exile, and they are: synagogues and houses of study, even though the Temple was destroyed, as it says: “And I will be for them a minor temple” (Yechezkel 11:16), which the Rabbis interpreted to mean “these are the synagogues and houses of study” (Bavli Megillah 29a)” (translation mine).  As a fellow Pardesnik wrote in her dvar on this parsha, it is a beautiful thing when the Torah grows up with us.  I see this comment of the Sforno’s to be a great example of reading the Torah to be ever-relevant to our present.  Yes, Vayikra was talking about the Mishkan, and the Temple which it became.  For us, however, it can be speaking about any sanctified space that we use to come together as a community, to be closer to each other and to Hashem.

Keeping the text

Relevant for our times

A timeless task

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