32 BeharBehar is about the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. The Torah portion worries about the impact of the economic struggle on the lives of human beings. We can’t see the forest for the trees when we are engaged in the economic struggle. Even if one is strict during the Sabbatical year about not planting or working the fields, vineyard, and orchards, some grain will grow, and untended vineyards and orchards will yield some produce. In this portion, while the land is to rest for the year and the farmer is forbidden from harvesting for his exclusive use, he can collect the grain to share with others. Four times in this brief portion, we find the words "Should your brother sink into poverty..." This is to remind us that the poor must be supported. The emphasis on how we are to be concerned about the poor is striking.

Issues of economic inequality and economic justice are not new in our time but transcend time and place. Our obligations stem back to the Torah and hold true to this day. This applies to our personal obligations and to advocating for equitable public policies as well.

The Torah is concerned about the poverty of the land. In our pursuit of wealth, we abuse and overwork the land. The sabbatical year serves to remind us that we are caretakers of the land and its temporary stewards. Most importantly, the Torah is concerned with the poverty of the human soul. The seventh year, the "Sabbath of the Lord," is not only for the land but for those who work the land. It removes human beings from the economic struggle, for when engaged in the economic struggle, we are not able to gain perspective. So, the sabbatical year provides the opportunity to step back and then re-engage the following year. We can take these lessons into our daily lives every year when we share what we have with others and care for the land and those who work with us. As the Sabbatical year falls every seven years, Shabbat comes every seven days. We can gain perspective by stepping back, savoring what we have created, sharing our good fortunes, and celebrating this weekly holiness in time. Opportunities abound to share with and support others. During this time, as we count the Omer, we can count our blessings and how we can engage with others and support one another.

This Shabbat, we will honor those who gave their lives in military service to our country as we begin Memorial Day Weekend. Next, as May Mental Health Awareness Month concludes, Shabbat will focus on wellness and wellbeing.