Behar consists of a single chapter that, despite its brevity, had a transformative impact on the social structure of ancient Israel and provided a unique solution to the otherwise intractable conflict between two fundamental ideals: freedom and equality. Much of human history has illustrated the fact that you can have freedom without equality (laissez-faire economics), or equality without freedom (communism, socialism), but not both. The powerful insight of the Torah is that you can have both, but not at the same time. Therefore time itself has to become part of the solution, in the form of the seventh year and, after seven sabbatical cycles, the Jubilee. These become periodic corrections to the distortions of the free market that allow some to become rich while others suffer the loss of land, home, and even freedom. Through the periodic liberation of slaves, release of debts, and restoration of ancestral lands, the Torah provides a still-inspiring alternative to individualism on the one hand, collectivism on the other.

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