KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
is Parshat Behar
Candle Lighting 7:45 PM 5/13/11 NYC DST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel - Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
Terms - In Memoriam of Mr. David M.
Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z'L)
The Children of Israel were given a Mitzvah
of Shemittat Karkaot – a Sabbatical for the
Land. For six years, the Jewish Nation would
tend to their fields in the Land of Israel.
On the seventh year, work would cease and
the land would rest. The produce on the
seventh year that grew from the seeds sewn
in the sixth year was free to everyone and
would only be gathered as needed.
“When you come to the land which I give to
you… for six years plant your field… and
gather its produce. (Leviticus 25:2-3)
The Kli Yakar makes a fascinating point. The
Torah begins by emphatically stating that
G-d gave us the land. We don’t possess the
land because we purchased it, inherited it,
or conquered it. We have the land only
because G-d gave it to us. Then, immediately
following the laws of Shemittah (the
Sabbatical year), the Torah discusses what
happens when a Jew becomes bankrupt. The
message is clear – G-d gave us the land and
whoever doesn’t uphold the Sabbatical runs
the risk of becoming bankrupt.
The Kli Yakar Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron
Luntschitz; Prague; 1550 - 1619) asks why.
Why did Hashem feel it was necessary, by the
commandment of Shemittah, to remind us that
everything we have comes from the hand of
G-d and only from the hand of G-d?
Furthermore, Shemittah is a particularly
enticing commandment to perform. As the Kli
Yakar reminds us, farmland often needs to
lie fallow on average twice every six years.
Here, G-d is guaranteeing six successful
years with enough produce to last through
the seventh year. As the verse says “for six
years plant your field… and gather its
produce.” (See also Leviticus 25:21)
Why by Shemittah do we need to be reminded
that everything comes from G-d? Because ,the
Kli Yakar answers, when a person works and
toils, his natural inclination is to take
comfort in the belief that through his own
efforts he will profit. Even though he
knows, intellectually, that everything is
from G-d’s hand, he takes comfort in relying
upon his own efforts.
If he knows everything comes from G-d, why
does he take comfort in his own labors?
Because every person instinctively desires
to be independent and able to shape his own
destiny. It is in this very moment, when a
person is working the land for his own
sustenance, that Hashem reminds us to submit
ourselves to His will.
Even by Shemittah where a person is
guaranteed to profit through observance, G-d
warns us against the natural desire to rely
upon our own efforts.
The desire for self-reliance is so great,
most people would prefer to earn less if
they could do so by their own hands.
By the commandment of Shemittah, we discover
the challenge of Torah observance isn’t a
question of difficulty or sacrifice. It a
question of living life of on our terms
versus G-d’s terms.
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