Parashas Behar

In this week’s parashah, the Torah states (Vayikra 25:23): “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine – for you are sojourners and settlers with Me.” The closing phrase of this verse is unclear, for “sojourner” and “settler” have opposite meanings: A sojourner is a temporary resident, while a settler is a permanent resident. The Maggid offers a homiletical interpretation.
Our Sages teach (Avos 4:21): “This world is like a corridor leading to the world to come. Prepare yourself in the corridor so that you may enter the banquet hall.” All the days of his life in this world, a person is like a sojourner in a foreign land, a guest who has stopped over to lodge. Thus, Dovid HaMelech prays (Tehillim 119:19): “A sojourner am I within the world; do not hide Your mitzvos from me.” Dovid is pleading for Hashem’s help in keeping the mitzvos, arguing that he is but a sojourner in this world, and the only reason he is here is to amass a stock of Torah and mitzvos that will allow him to enter the world to come. This is how it is with all of us. Hence, it behooves a person to cast aside his attachments to this world, so as to make Torah his main focus and his worldly occupation incidental.
This idea is hinted at in the verse about land sales that we quoted at the outset: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine for the land is Mine.” Hashem is telling each Jew: “Although I brought you into Eretz Yisrael, I did not mean that you should stay there forever. I brought you there to provide you an environment conducive to attaining spiritual wholeness during the limited number of days that you will dwell in this world. You should not regard your worldly dealings as a fixed occupation, as if you are settlers here working your own land.” The verse then concludes: “For the land is Mine – for you are sojourners and settlers with Me.” The verse is speaking of Hashem and the Jewish People as a pair, with one having the status of “sojourner” and the other the status of “settler.” If we act like sojourners, making our worldly occupation incidental, then we make Hashem a settler, with His Torah and mitzvos being the key fixtures of our lives. But if we act like settlers, immersing ourselves in worldly affairs, then Hashem becomes an incidental sojourner – one with whom, as the Torah puts it elsewhere (Vayikra 26:23), we deal with casually. Let us make the right choice.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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