It Coulda’ Been You and Jewish Stress Mgmt

The following text by Reb Zalman is from this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos BeHar. (Click here for Hebrew/English version). [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

(Leviticus 25:39) And if your friend becomes destitute – with you – and is sold to you.

[NOTE:  Achicha, (literally, “your brother”), has been translated as “your friend” throughout to keep the language gender neutral.  The words, “with you,” in this text, is understood as one who lives with you, i.e.,  nearby.  Gabbai Seth]

How could this have happened that your friend fell to such a low level that s/he is now being sold to you?

The likelihood is that the rich person was suppressed having fallen too with hir. For if the rich one could have been generous s/he would surely have lent support to hir friend so that the latter wouldn’t have had to become a servant.

And so, you have no right to work hir with low-paid, back-breaking work like an unskilled laborer, because it could have been you.

[NOTE:  The words, “with you,” can also be understood as you being with your friend in destitution.  If you don’t want to be treated that way if it happens to you, then don’t treat your friend that way.]

(Leviticus 25:36) You shall not take interest or increase from hir, and you shall fear your God, and let your friend live with you.

 (Psalms 91:16) “I will make you satisfied with the length of days and I will have you witness how I bring deliverance” –

For the one who takes interest for loans wants time to pass quickly and the one who pays the interest wants time to pass slowly. 

[NOTE:  The reason being that the lender looks forward with anticipation to the income while the borrower dreads paying back the loan.] 

So don’t take interest or increase so s/he will live with you at the regular rate of time.

(Leviticus 25:36) And let your friend live with you

in that rate of time, and in this also

I will make you satisfied with the length of days

that both of them will be satisfied in the passing of days, that the days will not seem either too long and boring or too short.

Consider Yaakov our father’s statement to Pharaoh as it is written:

(Genesis 47:9) “And Jacob said to Pharaoh ‘The days of the years of my sojournings are one hundred thirty years. They have been few and miserable, etc.'”

Because his good days were much less than his bad days.

But in Your praise, we say “the length of days will be satisfying.” How so?

For in all things, God notes,

(ibid verse 14), “s/he desired Me,”

and not the things of the world, therefore,

“I will save hir and I will raise hir up for s/he knows my name.”

i.e., s/he knows the tziruf / permutation of divine letters of the time and season of the hour that is in front of hir and then the rate of time’s passing will be just right and hir stress will be less.

[NOTE:  For a list of the months and their corresponding permutations go to:]

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
from Yishmiru Daat (2009 revision),
Parashat Behar,” p. 34

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