Importance of Heritage


This week’s parshah is a double portion, beginning first with Behar. It describes the Jubilee, a time every 50 years when property owners return to their leased land and, in turn, get it back. Some explanations for this law are that it was for economic fairness and for wealth being returned to those in need. My favorite is that it’s for people to remember their ancestors. This explains the reason to come to the person’s original property; it’s to remember those who came before them and to carry on their memories.

The various issues with this portion are explained by several rabbis. Most of their opinions I can agree with. For instance, Rabbi Harvey Fields talks about how all of the properties were carefully assessed so that the poor were not deprived and the rich were not given more money. He states that the prices of the houses were always on point in order to give the poor the most money possible. I agree with this approach.

Heritage seems to be an important theme in this portion; however, the way it’s shown is much different from what we think of. In Behar, the way people are remembered is by word or place. In modern times, we think of people in a myriad of ways, such as places, photos, heirlooms and journals. These items help people remember past generations.

As the years pass, there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors. Therefore, people need heirlooms to remember these survivors’ histories. Remembering your heritage is, above all, a Torah concept.

Alec Kalisch is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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