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Dvar for Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34)

Parshat Behar begins by describing the unique laws of the shemita (sabbatical seventh year for all fields, with agricultural practices that allow the land to rest) and yovel (Jubilee 50th year for all fields, when all land reverts back to original owners) laws (25:1-34). Nestled among the laws is the twice-mentioned precept not to wrong one another in business dealings (25:14, 17). Rashi explains that the first commandment is specific to appropriate business dealings, while the second restriction refers to verbally abusing or taking advantage of others. Why were these tenets placed in the middle of the shemita and yovel laws?

Rav S. R. Hirsch explains that the laws of shemita and yovel are centered around the concept that whatever happens in a given period always reverts to its origin, such that people revert to being equals. In contrast, taking advantage of someone monetarily or verbally abusing them implies an attitude that one is better than their peers and justified in taking advantage of their weaknesses. We are warned not to wrong another and are immediately reminded that we have a G-d, that we are more alike than we are different. As Rabbi Yosef Levinson adds, instead of seeing faults and weaknesses in others, let us focus on their good qualities. Instead of causing pain, let us use words of encouragement. And instead of using body language to make others uncomfortable, let us consider using motions and expressions that bring happiness to others.