Gratitude. A caution against over-reliance on personal merit and the resulting ego. An early look at privilege and power in society. These are more than we often expect from the Book of Leviticus, which is often perceived as narrowly focused on priestly sacrificial concerns, but this week’s Torah portion continues to dispel that bubbe meise.
“But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the Lord,” we read in Leviticus 25. “You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest…but you may eat whatever the land during its sabbath will produce—you, your male and female slaves, the hired and bound laborers who live with you.” On the seventh year, and culminating with a Jubilee after the seventh seven year, everyone is granted equal access to the produce of the land. Rich and poor, free and enslaved alike are reminded that so much is beyond their control, that they are all accountable to the same Creator. We often study this as a religiosity-invoking text, or one containing early agricultural best-practices, but I would encourage you to go through it once again as a moral document. We can all benefit from the fruits of the Book of Leviticus, not just the priests!
– Rabbi Aaron Meyer