Parshat Behar Bechukotai – We Are Family
In exploring this week’s parsha, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out that rules of how people should treat each other are expressed using the language of family:
When you buy or sell to your neighbour, let no one wrong his brother. (Vayikra 25:14)
If your brother is impoverished and indebted to you, you must support him; he must live with you like a foreign resident. Do not take interest or profit from him, but fear your God and let your brother live with you. (Vayikra 25:35-36)
The Torah is clearly teaching us that we are meant to consider and treat our fellow members of society, and Klal Yisrael, as family. Family is central to the Jewish conception of society. Bereshit is not primarily about theology, but about the families, our ancestors, who shaped Judaism. We learn about who we are by studying their lives, and we learn about social behavior in the context of our extended Klal Yisrael family. We share what we learn with future generations, ensuring continuity.
Camp is a microcosm of a Jewish society, where we are all part of a family that after more than 70 years also has its own unique continuity. We come from different areas of the country and different Jewish backgrounds and affiliations, and form our own two-to-eight-week-long community. We create family, unique each summer and continuing through generations of summers, and each finds a role to play within it. Most importantly, despite our differences, we treat and support one another as family; our little summer Klal Yisrael mirroring the larger Klal Yisrael — where we are arevim ze lazeh — responsible for one another.
As camp gets closer each day, let’s all take a moment to think about what it really means to create this family together.
Questions for the Shabbat Table:
- What role do you see yourself playing in the creation of our community this summer?
- How can each of us work to ensure that everyone feels included, and none of us is wronged?