Parshas Behar.




In this Parsha we learn primarily about the Shmita laws. The Land of Israel has to rest on every seventh year and also on every 50th year. What is the meaning behind these commandments?




In general the Shmita cycle is similar to the weekly cycle and hints to the seven days of creation. The seven days of the week correspond to seven lower Sefiros and to the seven thousand years the world was created to exist in its’ current state[1].





Events of the millennium




life of Adam




the Great Flood and Tower of Bavel


land and trees


giving of the Torah and building of the first Temple




two Temples stood


sea animals


long exile


animals and then Adam


continuation of exile, then coming of Moshiach




eternal rest


On the first day the light was created. The corresponding millennium is full of light, for Adam was still alive and people did not practice idolatry yet. On the second day of creation it does not say “ki tov” (it was good). This day corresponds to Gevurah (judgment). During the corresponding one thousand years the people deserved their annihilation by the Great Flood. The later generations did not learn their lesson and they built the Tower of Bavel.


On the third day of creation, the Torah says “ki tov” twice. During the third millennium corresponding to Tiferes, Avraham and his family started changing the world. During this millennium our nation received the Torah, entered the land of Israel and built the First Temple. This Temple stood for 410 years primarily during the time of next millennium, corresponding to Netzach. The two luminaries created on the fourth day – the big one and the small one correspond to the two Temples.


On the fifth day the fish were created and the people in the corresponding millennium became like the fish eating each other[2]. Historically this period is generally called “The Dark Ages”. This millennium is the time of our exile. The corresponding Sefirah “Hod” is also from the left side and has the same letters as “Dava[3]” (sick). The exile continues into the beginning of the sixth millennium, like the roaring animals created then. The creation of Adam corresponds to coming of Moshiach[4].


Notice the parallel of the first three days of creation to the next three.









sea animals


trees on earth


animals and people on earth


On the first and the fourth days corresponding to Sefiros of the right side of Hanhagah, light was created. On the second and fifth days – the left side of Hanhagah and water and its’ contents were created. The third and the sixth days correspond to the middle and on these days land was worked upon.


According to Ramban (25:2), Rabeynu Bachye (25:8) and other early Mekubalim, the fifty year cycle of Yovelos (jubilee year) also hints to 50 thousand years. These sages had a tradition that the seven thousand year periods of history of the world are also repeated seven times[5]. Obviously we have very limited understanding as to how exactly the rectifications of these seven thousand year cycles affect each other and what will happen in the future. We will wait for Moshiach and Eliyahu who will explain this question together with elucidating all other uncertainties.


Parshas Bechukosai.




In this Parsha we learn about the punishments and the predicted exile of our nation. When and how exactly did these predictions come true and what were the events that caused them?




In our commentary to Parshas Lech Lecha we started discussing the two exiles of our nation predicted by the rebukes: the one in this Parsha and the one in Parshas Ki Savo. We will now discuss this topic in greater detail. As we mentioned, our sages[6] teach us that the exile to Babylonia and the redemption from it was predicted in this Parsha, while the last exile by the Romans is predicted in the Parsha of the second rebuke[7].


The Ramban (26:16) discusses the specific prophesies fulfilled during the two exiles. The characteristics of the two exiles are different in every aspect. The sins of the generations that lead two these exiles are also different[8]. The main cause of the first exile was idol worship[9]. Indeed our Parsha describes this transgression numerous times. It also foretells the destruction of both the Holy Temple and (lehavdil) the various idolatrous altars and pagan places of worship.


The exile described here is a total exile with the Land of Israel remaining desolate for as many years as we did not let it rest during Shmita and Yovel[10]. The foretold redemption from this exile is not full. The Torah does not say that Hashem will forgive all our sins or gather our entire nation back, but only mentions that we will confess our sins and He will remember the covenant He made with our forefathers[11].


On the other hand regarding the generation of the second exile there is no specific sin mentioned and certainly idolatry is totally missing in the entire Parshas Ki Savo. Indeed the Jewish people were not guilty of idolatry at that time[12]. At the same time the destruction of the Second Temple is also not mentioned explicitly. The reason is that the Second Temple was missing the high level of the revelation Divine Presence just as the entire time period was just a continuation of exile[13].


The people who would conquer our nation during the Second Temple period are described as a merciless nation coming from afar, whose language we would not know. This applied to the Romans for indeed Italy is distant from the Holy Land and the Jewish people did not know Latin (while they were somewhat familiar with Arameic – the language of Babylonians). The nation of the second exile is compared to an eagle (Devarim 28:49) and indeed eagle was the symbol of the Roman armies.


The exile described in Parshas Ki Savo is not a one time event affecting the entire nation, but rather the slow process of the “foreigner among us rising higher and higher while we would be getting lower and lower”. This is indeed what happened when Herod was appointed by the Romans to be the king over our nation. Being an Edomite, he and most of his descendants practiced the policy of sucking the blood of our nation and using the money to build Greek cities. The Parsha predicts a gradual process of our nation being robbed of everything and even our children sold to slavery. In the end we are foretold that our people will be taken to Egypt by ships and sold as slaves, but there will be no buyers[14]. Indeed this is exactly what happened when Titus filled whole ships with the Jews and the market price for a Jew in Egypt fell below the price of food for a horse.


The second exile is not predicted to last for a particular time period. The redemption from it will come after a long period of time[15] after we are dispersed from one end of the world to the other (Devarim 28:64; 30:4). We will only be redeemed after full repentance, but this time the restoration will be complete and final. Hashem will fully renew His covenant with us and His Presense will dwell among us. As we all know the process of Teshuvah movement has already started. Every day more and more Jews become observant and we will be waiting every day for the promised redemption!





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[1] See Ramban, Bereishis 2:3; Vayikra 25:2. Shimta is like Shabbos and this is why the Torah is so strict regarding observance of Shmita and the punishment for desecrating it is exile. After the seven thousand years the world will be renewed and prepared for eternal existence (see Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a). See also the RAMCHAL, (KLACH Pischey Chochma, 98) regarding what will happen in the next three thousand years.


[2] See Talmud, Avoda Zara 4a.


[3] See Zohar 3:243a.


[4] Letters Adam are first letters of “Adam”, “Dovid”, “Moshiach” (see for instance RAMCHAL in introduction to Tikunim Chadashim).


[5] However Arizal seems to disagree with this, but Rav Tzvi Hersh from Zidichov explains that there is no argument between Arizal and the early Mekubalim. See also GR”A to Tikuney Zohar, Tikun 35 and 36, see the GR”A to the beginning of the 36th Tikun.

[6] Zohar Chadash, beginning of Parshas Ki Savo; GR”A on Tikuney Zohar Chadash 84c; Ramban, Vayikra 26:16.


[7] Note however, that prophesies can be fulfilled in various ways (see our words to Parshas Lech Lecha and Vayechi). Only once the prophesy actually comes true we can tell what was meant. This will explain why some of the predictions of Yermiyahu (chapter 5) use words from Ki Savo in regards to the Babylonian exile he was foretelling. Indeed, had we deserved, some of the “bad” prophesies in Ki Savo would not materialize and there would only be one exile and the Second Temple would stand forever (see RAMCHAL in introduction to Mishkanei Eliyon and our words to Parshas Miketz).


[8] See our words to Parshas Shmini.


[9] Obviously the number of people who actually worshiped idols was relatively small. The Doros Harishonim proves it from the fact that even during the worst periods of the Northern Kingdom, after the dynasty of Achav, all of Baal worshippers fit in one temple and King Yihu only needed 80 men to kill them (see Melachim 2:10:24). However, our nation bears collective responsibility and we were all punished for not stopping the idol worship and other transgressions. Here I’d like to mention that in general, when reading the books of prophets one has to be careful to not be mislead by their usage of strong language of criticism and to think that the earlier generations were worse than ourselves. Indeed they were actually a lot better (see Talmud, Yoma 9b). We can illustrate this by the following parable. Imagine a Rabbi that answered his cell phone in a synagogue in the beginning of prayer services. He may have many excuses: he personally did not start praying yet, it was only in the beginning when the Chazan just started the Korbonos, he thought it may be urgent etc. However, people looking may learn from this and say: “I saw a Rabbi talking on the phone during prayers!” If we lived in the age of prophets, this Rabbi would be deemed as “profaning the Divine Name” and be foretold that his “iniquity” will be visited upon him. (See Talmud, Shabbos, 56 for similar examples of children of Eli, children of Shmuel, King Dovid and King Shlomo. All of these people were criticized severely by the prophets yet when the Talmud explains what their sins really were it becomes clear they were quite minute.) In general, we suggest that those learning the Nach look into Daas Sofrim commentary before jumping to conclusions (and see also Teshuvos Vahanhagos 2:457 and Vayoel Moshe 1:131).

[10] There were seventy such years and indeed the exile was later predicted to last seventy years (Yermiyahu 25:11, 29:10).


[11] See also our words to Parshas Shmini.


[12] The desire for idol worship was stopped in the beginning of the Second Temple period and together with it prophesy disappeared (see Talmud, Yoma 69b). This is the general rule: when there is no great spirituality to be attained in a kosher way, there is no great yetzer hara to attain it through unclean methods.


[13] Talmud, Yoma 21b, see also Malbim on Daniel 9:24.


[14] Just this one verse has three predictions fulfilled exactly. One: we would be taken to Egypt, two: we would be brought there by ships, three: we would be sold at extremely cheap prices and there will still be no buyers. This prediction is truly amazing for it was recorded almost two thousand years before its’ fulfillment and by that time even most ancient nations surrounding the Land of Israel did not exist. Yet Egypt was still there and they still had a slave market.


[15] See the GR”A on Zohar in Yahel Ohr, 2:115a and our words to Parshas Lech Lecha.