I Raise You Up – Parshat Behar 5771

Every day I stare out my office window at the sign the nurses have put up: “10 tips to avoid the flu.” We are wrapped up in early detection and preventative screenings, and we receive flu shots and other immunizations to try and prevent whatever health challenges we can. However, the old adage “Prevention is the best medicine” applies to much more than getting enough sleep at night to avoid getting sick. 
When thinking about our future, we are often sent into a tizzy thinking about all of the preparation necessary. We plan for retirement because we hear that it’s never too early to start saving. We will think about our wills, our estates, about who we’ll gift what to.   We’re constantly reminded to plan ahead in terms of finance and health, and as we consider what the future might hold, it’s important to remember that preventative measures are usually easier than repairing damage later.
This weeks parshahBehar, discusses the preventative measures God has put in place in order for our land and our society to stay fertile and viable.  Chapter 25, verse 35 states “If your kinsman stumbles and comes under your authority, and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live by your side.”  This verse, according to the Sifra, a compilation of Halachic Midrashim on the book of Vayikra, is a warning to us about noticing the “stumble.”  A stumble is often that first moment when we can become aware of a change, or of something being wrong.  The sages suggest that it is easier to support a person and hold him or her up when the person first begins to stumble than it is to pick the person up after he or she has fallen.  That is to say that our text reminds us that we should not wait until there is serious damage done before we provide assistance.
Back in February, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas celebrated 100 years of Federation.  This kickoff event for the 100th year explained that we are a community in which people support one another.  There are a plethora of agencies linked to Federation, like our school, that make sure that all Jews in the community are taken care of and assisted during those times after a stumble. 
We are commanded to be proactive; after all, it is easier to prevent poverty than it is to cure it.  Our text implores us to open our eyes and take a good look at our community and identify issues that require us to be proactive.  We must take a stand and move forward to set the stage for success rather than failure.  Parshat Behar reminds us that if we take a step forward and set the groundwork for a future that is well planned and prepared for, then the next 100 years will not only be fruitful, but will lead us to greatness. 
Family Discussion Questions
1. What are some of the things you do to protect your health so you don’t get sick?
2. How does offering support to people in our community in need fit in with our ethical covenant?
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