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Behar: Who is the Redeemer?

And if your brother becomes poor and he sells part of his lands, and his redeemer (go’alo/ (גאלו , who is his kinsman, shall come and redeem  (v’ga’al/ וגאל ) that which his brother has sold”.

 Let us open with some calculations: Until our Torah portion, Behar, the root for ‘redeem’, ga’al/גאל appears in the Torah only three times. In Behar, it appears 19 times, the highest concentration of ga’al/redemption in the Torah portions. The next in line is the portion of Behukotai (often read together with Behar), in which ga’al is written 12 times. Together with Behar, the root ga’al appears 31 times in these two final portions of the Book of Leviticus. These numbers reveal a beautiful allusion: The root ga’al appears 34 (the numerical value of ga’al) times in the Book of Leviticus. The appearances are divided into ga’al/ ג-אל (3 plus 31) times . If we count the appearances of ga’al in the entire Torah, we will find 45 appearances, the numerical value of geulah (redemption)!

In the entire Bible, the greatest concentration of the root ga’al is in the Scroll of Ruth (which we will read on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot). In the 85 verses of Ruth, the root ga’al appears 23 times. 23 is the midpoint of 45, clearly relating to it.

In our Torah portion and in the Scroll of Ruth we learn that the kinsman is the preferred redeemer. He has the first option to purchase-redeem the field, as Boaz says to Ruth, “If he redeems you, good, let him redeem, and if he does not wish to redeem you, and I will redeem you.”  This is an important allusion to the redemption of Israel: The redeemer-kinsman of Israel is the tzaddik. In other words, the redemption of Israel materializes when they merit the redemption –when they are righteous and immersed in Torah. Similar to the Scroll of Ruth, however, it is possible that the redeemer-kinsman does not want to redeem. We do not find favor in his eyes, we look distant and unkempt…At that point G-d comes and says, “…and I will redeem you”. I, Myself, will redeem you, without looking at your outward appearance: “For My sake, for My sake, I will do it.”

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