Behar – Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2, The Parashat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, May 25, 2019

Judaism has a radical sense of equality. That all human beings, having been created in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27), are of equal value.

No person can claim they are of greater value than another. Wealth or poverty make no difference, nor does one’s station in life. Race and gender do not matter either.

This week’s Torah portion reinforces this point of view. In ancient Israel, the Sabbatical year (shmita), which comes every six years, required that Israelites free any Israelite slaves so they could return to their families and that any land purchased be returned to its original owner. Every seven years all of Israel was returned to the original conditions that applied when they entered the land. In this way, no one could become to rich as land ownership was the defining condition of wealth and no Israelite could be perpetually enslaved.

These laws of economic relations reinforce the Jewish belief that no human being is superior to another. It is a message we would do well to heed today.