Leviticus 25:23 Since the land is Mine, no land shall be sold permanently. You are foreigners and resident aliens as far as I am concerned.
Ownership. It appears to be a simple concept. But it's not. Just as Adnai tells us that the land is not ours to keep, there are many things to which we profess ownership that I'm not so sure we can. And far too many things we should accept ownership of and do not.
Individual ownership has its pluses, but it also has a down side. It can foster a selfishness and an inability to see the "big picture", community-wise. If I could cite the number one leading cause for failure of Total Quality Management programs in business (aside from the obvious mistake of trying to pursue quality by fiat from the top down, rather than starting from the bottom up) it is the territorial disputes between departments, offices, etc. Instead of all working towards the greater good of the community (i.e., the company) we stubbornly try to protect the things we believe we "own." But just as Gd can take away the land, the company can take away what you think you own. We only have stewardship. Torah reminds us of that.
Our penchant for ownership, for acquiring more and more scares me. I once participated in an email discussion with alumni of my high school. Many talked about how hard they worked, how many hours they put in, and how proud they were of that. Why then, I asked them, have we embraced the technology revolution? Isn't it supposed to free us from drudgery and give us more time to enjoy other things in life besides work?
Gd decreed a year of rest for the land every 7 years (and an even bigger rest every 50.) Gd also decreed a day of rest for all of us every 7 days, Have we learned nothing from this?
Here's an experiment. Next time you are at work, set a timer on your computer and take a brief relaxation moment every 7 minutes, and a slightly longer break every fifty minutes. Just stop for a minute, lean back, close your eyes, breathe deeply. Take your mind of your work, and think about Gd, our stewardship of the planet, or whatever you find pleasantly meaningful. Every 50 minutes, actually get up and stretch or walk around. Also, when something happens that perks up your "I gotta protect my turf" alarm - ignore it-and try being a part of the whole community. See if you can set aside your penchant for ownership, and compromise for the good of all. At the end of the day, go home - leaving all vestiges of work, and any hint of "ownership" behind.
Write back and tell me how it went. I'll let you know how it works for me. I know it won't be easy, but nothing worth the effort ever is.
Once you've learned to do this, then maybe you'll be able to actually take an entire day of rest - one in every seven. Then you will truly know what it is to "Shabbat."
This Shabbat, and every Shabbat, try to treat yourself to that one seventh of rest you deserve for the week.
To your and yours a Shabbat Shalom, and a joyous, happy Lag B'Omer. I can't wait to get my haircut.
©1997 & 2003 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some other musings on this parasha
5762 - Tough Love
Behar-Bekhukotai 5761-The Big Book (Bottoming Out Gd's Way)
Bechukotai 5763-Keri Is So
Bekhukotai 5760-Repugnant Realities
Behar 5760-Slaves to Gd
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