Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2) The Freedom To Live Our Unlived Lives?

The Western Wall, Jerusalem/Steve Lubetkin Photo. Used by permission.

In this week’s portion we continue the litany of rules and such that speak to the Israelites. We are close to the end of Leviticus. Note as you read the portion its most famous line, that of 25:10 “You shall proclaim “dror” throughout the land and to all its inhabitants”. The translation of the Hebrew “dror”is often rendered “freedom” but also has the meaning of “release” as in release from slavery. The context is the calendar and the Sabbatical and Jubilee years when “dror” as in release was a part of the cycle. But, on the Liberty Bell, it is freedom!
It is that cycle that I wish to look at with you this week, for the portion again speaks to the calendar cycle, specifically laws around the land (which are reminded that it belongs not to us, but to God, and thus another proof text for the emerging Jewish environmental movement). When you look at our calendar cycle, holiday cycle, etc you again are reminded of the importance in Judaism of time. We take moments, as Heschel reminds us, to “sanctify time”. As we get older, it is time that becomes the shadow that is our companion. As we have written numerous times, time is the one thing, no matter what we do or try to do, that we cannot control. So, this portion again serves as a reminder of that fact: we are, as an old camp song reminded us, “captives on the carousel of time”.
This idea of time has become very personal to me, and many of my friends. We are all at that age when the preciousness of certain moments become more important. The moments of meaning with friends, family, grandchildren (if we are blessed to have them) and yes, even moments of memory; time becomes so much more present. We enter the spiritual realm of life even more. Many of us readjust our value system, moving from acquiring “things” to acquiring meaningful moments. Our often repeated “some day” become more immediate.
It is the reality of our own mortality that helps shape this psychic shift.
So, for Behar let me remind you of a wonderful little meditation, a poem that was given to me by someone at a workshop we did on issues related to time. It comes from a magazine called Shambala Sun, from 2000 and is attributed to a Mark Gerzon. It is “The Second Half of Life”.
In the second half of our life we yearn for wholeness
We yearn to remember the parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, to nourish those we have starved, to express those we have silenced, and to bring into the light, those we have cast into shadows.
We yearn for the parts of ourselves that have been in the dark to find sunlight, and those that are sunburned to find shade. We yearn for the parts that have been undeveloped to grow, parts that have been silent to speak, and those that were noisy to be still.
We yearn for the parts that have been alone to find companionship, and those that have been overcrowded to find solitude.
We yearn to live our unlived lives.
Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Richard F Address

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