Parashat Behukkotai begins with a promise and a threat. If we keep God's commandments, Torah tells us, good things will come; if not, then we will know all manner of ill fortune. This is followed immediately by the point that if we fail to obey, once we're in dire straits the earth will create obedience for us -- it will take the sabbatical rest we blindly refused to give. In other words, the commandment at the heart of this passage is the one from the start of parashat Behar, about ensuring a sabbatical year for the land.
What would it mean to follow these commandments today? How can, or should, we read these passages? I aimed to address these questions in this week's d'var for Radical Torah:
[W]hen we read this week's portion metaphorically, we find teachings that can inform our lives even in today's world. Torah tells us that we must care for the earth in which we are planted -- that this commandment is the very ground of our ethics, and of our prosperity. Just as we must afford human beings the chance to rest each week, to connect with holiness and to experience joy, we must afford the earth a regular chance to rest, and must treat it as a holy creation of our holy God. If we do these things, we will know deep abundance -- both literally (because earth well-tended produces more and better fruits) and spiritually (because treating the earth wisely and well puts us in a different relationship with the ground upon which we walk...and the ground of being Who sustains us.)
Read the whole thing here: The importance of tending the earth.