Open Arms – A Bissel to Nibble #20 of 5773

By Rabbi Mark Melamut

Parshat B’har-B’hukkotai (Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34) – Open Arms

Pacific Ocean in sparkling sunlight. Enjoy the heat wave!

Pacific Ocean in sparkling sunlight. Enjoy the heat wave!

What an amazing string of sunny and warm days in San Francisco.  On my bike ride along the Ocean Beach path this morning, the sun sparkled on the surface of the placid Pacific Ocean, like diamonds on a never ending expanse, and my arms and spirit felt wide open.

Whether its the seventh year sabbatical rest for land that is farmed, or the fiftieth year Jubilee for the release of property and debt, the reason we read about this week in the torah is the same. For “…the land is Mine, you are but strangers and residents with Me.” (25:23)  Even the land needs rest and we can only imagine what it might have felt like to experience the Jubilee release every fifty years.  It seems clear that the lesson we might learn is that though we may feel in charge, and especially of our own land and possessions, ultimately, many things are temporary and belong to Something or Somebody else.

Beyond leaving us feeling vulnerable, a higher purpose, that of liberty and equality, sparkles on the surface of our lives.  A release of land, debt and property is also meant to guide us in the full experience of life with open arms.  As we get closer and closer to the holiday of Shavuot, the commemoration of receiving the torah (May 14), tradition asks us to be “as open as a wilderness to receive torah.”  Though we don’t forgo our debts, belongings, and property,  the wisdom of torah and the things we learn in life, sparkle in us most brightly when we are able to open our arms and to focus on the truly meaningful “gems” in our little treasure box called life.

  • In what settings do we feel most open and able to greet life with open arms?
  • Which of our possessions are a burden and which are a boon to our lives?
  • What are the meaningful and sparkling “gems” in our life today?

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Mark Melamut

From our series: A Bissel to Nibble

*Bissel: (bis-sel) Yiddish.  Meaning: “a little.” “Give me a bissel lox on my bagel, would you, darling?” A biselleh is even less. (
Served each Friday afternoon, noonish.

About Gabriele Lange

Multi Media Consultant in SF Bay Area WebDesign at City College 2008-2011 Professional Photographer since 1998 Lived in Berlin, Germany between 1987-1994
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