Our bus returned to Jerusalem an hour before Shabbat candle-lighting time. I quickly biked home to shower and light the candles before heading out to my friend’s place for dinner. It was only at twilight, while walking along the Rakevet (the old railroad tracks that cut across the south Jerusalem) and reading from a commentary on the week’s Torah potion, that some of what I had seen and experienced in the West Bank earlier that day started to come into focus. I was struck by the poignant connection between the week’s parsha and my day’s immersion into The Conflict.
The passage was “Behar” in the book of Leviticus, which deals mainly with the laws surrounding the Shemitta (or Sabbatical Year) and the Yovel (or Jubilee Year). The Torah commands that every seven years the land is to lie fallow, and any fruits that the land produces by itself are to be shared equally with all. And after seven cycles of the Shemitta, or every fifty years, the Yovel is celebrated and all lands are to revert back to their ancestral owners. The commentary I was reading, written by Rabbi Michael Hattin in his book “Passages,” said that what we are to spiritually take away from this practice is that we must frequently “relax our grasp on the illusion of physical permanence that land possession affords.” Continue reading