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S.A.L.T. - Monday


The haftara for Parashat Behar is taken from Sefer Yirmiyahu 32, and tells the fascinating story of the prophet's purchase of land from his cousin, Chanamel, one year before the destruction of the First Temple.  With the Babylonian army besieging Jerusalem, Chanamel comes to Yirmiyahu in his prison cell (the king had arrested him from urging that the kingdom surrender) and asked him to purchase his field in Anatot.  In line with the laws of "ge'ula" (redemption of land) outlined in Parashat Behar, Chanamel, in dire need of funds, offered his close relative, Yirmiyahu, the purchase of the land.  God had previously informed Yirmiyahu of Chanamel's visit and instructed Yirmiyahu to agree to the deal.  Though such a purchase was hardly a promising investment, given the dark cloud of destruction that hovered over the Judean Kingdom, God nevertheless ordered that the prophet purchase the property as a sign that Benei Yisrael will return from exile to rebuild their land.

In describing the technicalities of the purchase, the verse (32:11) refers to the deed of sale with two terms: "chatum" (literally "sealed") and "galuy" (literally, "exposed").  Rashi, based on Chazal, explains that Yirmiyahu had two deeds written for the transaction.  The first was a "get pashut," or "simple contract," written on a standard, easily readable piece of paper.  To this the verse refers when it speaks of "galuy."  The second document, the "chatum," was what Chazal call a "get mekushar," or "tied contract." After having been written, a "get mekushar" is folded and tied in several places, and cannot be read before it is untied and unfolded.  The final chapter of Masekhet Bava Batra elaborates on the technical differences between these two types of shetarot (contracts, or documents).  Wherein lies the significance behind these two documents? Why did Yirmiyahu order both be written for the purchase of his cousin's land?

Rav Soloveitchik (as cited by Rav Herschel Shachtar, "Nefesh HaRav," pp.300-302) explained that the two documents symbolize the two types of events experienced in life, at both the individual and national levels.  Many events resemble the "get pashut," they are easily foreseen and readable.  There are many events that we can, with just a little bit of foresight, anticipate and prepare for ahead of time.  Many other developments, however, may be described as a "get mekushar," as closed, sealed, tied, and unreadable.  So much of what we see and experience could never have even been imagined, let alone expected.  For so many of us, life has taken us along a path we had never as much as dreamt of following.  And undoubtedly on the broader, historical plane, events often unfold in the most unexpected ways, such that the future sometimes seems to us as written in a "get mekushar," with the script entirely concealed and inaccessible.

Yirmiyahu here performs a symbolic act meant at reassuring the people that Jews will again purchase and develop land in Jerusalem and its environs.  While for the practical purpose of the sale he perhaps required a "get pashut," for his symbolic message he ordered the writing of a "get mekushar," as well.  To the residents of the Jerusalem at the time, it seemed inconceivable that real estate will ever sell in the region again.  Yirmiyahu had to remind them of the message of the "get mekushar," that the future cannot always be read, that we are often denied access to the divine plan and can only hope and pray for the speedy fulfillment of His promise to the prophet of the rebuilding of Jerusalem.



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