Rest (Behar/Behukotai)

Dorothy Richman

About Dorothy Richman

Dorothy Richman is a free-range rabbi in Berkeley, CA.

About Rest (Behar/Behukotai)

Rest, the song, sings the teaching of Parshat Behar. God educates the Israelites in the wilderness about the importance of rest and release. We are given a rhythm of human work and its ceasing: six days labor and rest on the seventh. We are given a rhythm of working the land: six years work and rest on the seventh. And we are given a rhythm of ownership: seven sets of seven- own; on the fiftieth- release and return. And through this rhythm, we humans are consistently reminded: none of this belongs to you.This layering of rest and release into our cultural and social practice is a valuable spiritual inheritance for us today, even without an active Sabbatical or Jubilee practice. We can still be mindful of rest and release, even in the space of a day. As the spiritual autobiographer Etty Hillesum wrote in her journal of Nazi Amsterdam in the early 1940s, “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.” Resting is an embodied spiritual, economic, ethical and ecological practice. ” The Earth is God’s and the fullness thereof.” (Psalm 24:1)