Thursday, September 25, 2014

Parshat Behar, 4th Portion (Leviticus 25:25-25:28), May 7, 2014

This reading is about fairness and generosity. If you need to sell your inherited property because you are impoverished, then your brother shall buy your property back. And if you don't have a brother, but earn enough to buy the property back, then the person who bought it needs to return it. And if it hasn't yet been returned, in the Jubilee year, it shall be returned to the original seller.

This certainly gives the ownership of property another meaning. Being just, fair and giving seem to trump the sale itself. Would one buy property today knowing that it wouldn't be his forever, and maybe wouldn't be his even very long? But it seems like the point is to keep everyone on a somewhat equal basis—to be fair. I doubt there would be much of a gap between rich and poor.

In California, if a great profit occurs in a subsequent sale of an art work, some of the profit should return to the artist. The idea of “ownership” shifts, with the idea that if you make too big of a profit, you shall have to return some of your profit to the artist. I think this might make art a less attractive investment opportunity and thus would hurt the up and coming artist who would most need the sales. But fairness prevails what actually might really help the artist.

Is there a morality in business that is being suggested here? I suppose so.

P.S. I realized this morning this is a metaphor for our lives. They are a gift with an expiration date.

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