Parashat B’har focuses on laws that aim to protect economically disadvantaged members of the community from permanently losing their freedom and means of livelihood. This is done not only because of concern for one’s fellow, but also in the context of a theological lens. This is holiness in action.
We are reminded that everything is ultimately God’s. And so when we experience the Shemitah, the year in which the land and slaves are released back to their original owner (ie God) every seven years, we are encouraging not only an external release of ownership, but also an internal release. The land is released from carrying the burden of needing to produce, of being sapped of life-giving nutrients and energy, of being sucked dry. Servants are released from the burden of shame, of feeling inferior, of manifesting their true identity out in the world. (more…)