Friday, September 26, 2014

Parshat Behar, 5th Portion (Leviticus 25:29-25:38), May 8, 2014

And when a man sells a residential house in a walled city, its redemption may take place until the completion of the year of its sale. Its [period of] redemption shall be a full year. —Leviticus 25:29

We learn in this reading that homes are treated differently than land. Rashi writes, “Scripture states that one may redeem it [land] whenever one wishes after two years have elapsed [since the date of sale] and onwards [until Jubilee] and that within the first two years [following the sale] one may not redeem it, ....”

Then we read of a distinction between house in cities with walls and cities without walls. If it had a wall earlier, that counts as having a wall. If the house is in a walled city then it will not leave the possession of the owner in the Jubilee but it will if it is a unwalled city.

Houses in unwalled cities are treated like fields and revert back to the previous owner in the year of the jubilee.

We learn that “And, [regarding] the cities of the Levites, the houses of their inherited cities shall forever have a [right of] redemption for the Levites.” —Leviticus 25:29

I am surprised that the Levites have special privileges. But they are the priests. Still, it makes one wonder if they wrote this part of the Torah for their benefit.

Why should walled cities have different rules? Because the property might be more valuable because it is protected more from outsiders?

"If your brother becomes destitute ... you shall support him ....” —Leviticus 25-35

Nor should you charge your brother interest.

The last line is curious, “To be a God to you” ( or “To be your God.” (Reform Torah) Is the suggestion here that this is not the God of all people?

The commentary tells us “but anyone who leaves it [the land of Israel] [without halachic permission] is like one who worships idols.” — [Torath Kohanim 25:77; Keth. 110b]

Does this have anything to do with religion in a spiritual matter? It just seems like laws, however arbitrary they might be. By signing God's name to these laws, I suspect some might take them more seriously.


  1. Actually we Levites aren't the priests. That honor belongs to the Cohen's. We Levis are second line dudes kind of like the sargeant at arms. H. Levi


    "The Levitical priesthood began at Mt. Sinai through Moses and ended when Christ abolished the Law of Moses on the cross: Col 2:14-17; Heb 8:6-7, 13; 4:1-4."

    Thanks for the correction. Seems like you are generally right, but it isn't as clear as you think.

    The passage to which reference is made is the story of the good Samaritan. In short, all priests are Levites, being selected from the tribe of Levi, but not all Levites are priests. (from:

    Will have to ask the rabbi about this.



Thanks for commenting. One cannot study the Torah alone.