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Behar(Leviticus 25:1-26:2)

Listen To The Land

This week's portion speaks about land and its ownership. Which reminds me of a beautiful story:

Two wealthy Jewish men lived in a town in Eastern Europe. They were great friends, but one day they entered into a dispute over a small piece of land. Each one felt that it belonged to him and slowly, over time, the issue came between them.

For men as wealthy as they, it was such an insignificant piece of land, but each was insistent that it belonged to him, and the dispute grew more and more unpleasant. After a while, they no longer talked to each other, and eventually they became bitter enemies.

Although neither wished to do so, members of the community convinced them to go the rabbi and have him resolve the argument. Each one presented his case and the rabbi listened carefully.

Then the rabbi asked if he could go and see the land in question. When they got there, it was clear that the land was virtually worthless in relation to each of their portfolios. The rabbi said that he could not decide who was right and in a case like this, the best thing was to ask the land itself. Both thought he was crazy as they watched him put his ear to the ground and listen carefully. He stood up nodding knowingly.

"The land has resolved this issue for us," he explained. Each was eager to hear. "The land told me," said the rabbi, "that you think it belongs to you and you think it belongs to you. The truth of the matter is, however, that one day soon, both of you will actually belong to it."

Perspective is so important in life. We can so easily become carried away on a tide of pettiness and lose all sense of our true priorities. Land is never more important than friendship, in the same way that money is never more important than a spouse, nor work more important than children. It's a sobering thought that one day every one of us will 'belong' to the earth. With that in mind, ask yourself if those things which are frustrating you right now are really all that important. Business is not going well; your house is falling apart; people aren't respecting you. Will any of these things really matter in five, let alone 50 years? Life is too precious and too fleeting to waste on pettiness.

Published: March 1, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) J LaLone, May 3, 2010 10:52 PM

And, how about this case?

Rabbi Rosenblatt, this was absolutely right on. But, what of the case in which two sisters coerce their dying father to sign over his large property to them, leaving out their sister who only wanted 1-2% of the property to use for retirement which was only 5 years away. They kept everything else as well right down to every photograph and teaspoon. Not only did the sister left out lose land (land that she had wandered and loved throughout childhood) to live upon in her last years, but they stole her family from her, too. They did the same thing with another sister's property when she died shortly after. I think it is best to accept the losses. All of them! Comfirm that the sister who let all go after an initial protest, with the consolation that her father had confirmed that he was coerced with the threat of being sent away to a nursing home along with his ill wife if he did not sign everything over to them, and his apology for doing so, is right to make family-like ties with friends. Do you agree that there is no moral obligation on the part of the disinherited sister/daughter to ever reach out to them again?

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