One thing which ancient – and perhaps modern – Jews and Celts share is an attitude towards the land. Both peoples see the land as a space they occupy in the capacity of tenants, but which is owned by the divine. God says to the Israelites in B’har, “Since the land is Mine, no land shall be sold permanently. You are foreigners and resident aliens as far as I am concerned.” For the Celts, the land was divine in itself, occupied by spirits. Of course, such a conception of creation and of the divine is almost totally different from ours, although we also see God’s presence everywhere. It is, though, the similarity in the perceived perception of our status in relation to the land is something which marks us as different from peoples who see land simply as human property. Perhaps we are not such so strangely transplanted here as some might think.
B’har deals with redemption both of land and of slaves. If we don’t fully own the land, how can we fully own one another?
This week we come to B’chukkotai, which prefigures much of D’varim in that it begins to summarise the gist of God’s message to His people: follow My commandments and good will ensue; disobey them and the consequences will be dire. There is, as there will be too in D’varim, the promise of forgiveness if we repent. “I will remember my covenant with Jacob as well as my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham.” This is not the end of the parsha, but to hear and read it, why not come along this Saturday at 10:30? Harvey Kurzfield will be there to bring us in harmony to the next stage in our journey.
Next week, it’s the desert.
Chazak, Chazak, V’Nitzchazeik.