“‘For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’” — Jeremiah 32:15
The Torah portion for this week is Behar, which means “on the mountain,” from Leviticus 25:1–26:2, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 32:6–22.
This week’s Torah reading is called Behar, meaning “on the mountain.” There are times in our lives when we stand “on the mountain.” We have reached the summit, we feel on top of the world, full of joy and inspiration. This is a fitting title for a portion that discusses the joyous once-in-every-50-years event called the Year of Jubilee.
In contrast, this week’s Haftorah reading from the book of Jeremiah begins with the prophet in the depths of prison. Jeremiah had been prophesying about Israel’s pending fall to the Babylonians. King Zedekiah of Israel didn’t care for that message, so he threw Jeremiah into prison. There, confined and restrained, Jeremiah received a most surprising prophecy.
God instructed Jeremiah to buy land in Israel, specifically a field in a place called Anathoth that was once owned by Jeremiah’s cousin. The cousin had fallen on hard times and was forced to sell the land, so he came to Jeremiah, as God had foretold, and asked Jeremiah to purchase it. As God had commanded him, Jeremiah bought the field and had the transaction sealed and preserved in the ground.
From the perspective of an outsider, this transaction appeared to be a very foolish thing for Jeremiah to do. Here he was in prison with no hope of being released, and he bought land somewhere that he might never see. On top of that, Jeremiah knew that Israel was about to be conquered. He knew that the entire nation would be exiled. Yet, Jeremiah invested in Israeli real estate. “For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”
Jeremiah’s act was one of great faith and was meant to instill faith in all Israel. God wanted His people to know that no matter how bad things appeared to be, the present situation was not their final destination. Things would turn around, and Israel would see better days.
This is a powerful message for us today, especially for those who are going through particularly challenging times. Sometimes it feels like we are confined and restricted. It could be health problems, financial constraints, or a difficult relationship with someone at home or at work.
But God wants us to know that we will see better days. Like Jeremiah, we are to plan for a brighter future because no challenge lasts forever, and a new day will dawn.
Friends, know today that our current situations will change for the better – both for us as individuals and for humanity as a whole. Have faith that a better day is dawning, and, with the help of God, we shall see it.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President