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Parashat Behar/Bechukotai

Dedicated for a Refuah Shelemah for Yaakov Ben Yocheved by Nathan Cohen

Parashat Behar/Bechukotai

In previous Parashiot we learned about the mitzvah of Shabbat and how we have an obligation to work six days and on the seventh day we are not allowed to work as it should be spent as a holy day for us to become close to Hashem! At the end of last weeks parashat Emor, we learned about all the holidays of the year and how the year also entails six holy days that culminate with a 7th day. The Vilna Gaon explains on the pasuk from last weeks parasha..."For six days labor may be done, and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, a holy convocation, you shall not do any work; its a Sabbath for Hashem in all your dwelling places"...in addition to this applying to the days of the week, the passion can also apply to the days of the year. There are seven holy days specified in this parasha: The first and seventh days of Pesach, one day of Shavuout, one day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first day of Sukkot and Shemini Atseret. On six of them we are allowed to do some work, such as cooking and carrying, but on the seventh day...Yom Kippur, we are not, so Yom Kippur is to the year what Shabbat is to the week, therefore its recognized in the Torah as..."Shabbat Shabbaton!"

Now we're about to learn about another Shabbat and that is Shemittah, the Shabbat for the land to rest. It says in the first pasuk..."Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai, saying: Speak to B'nei Yisrael and say to them: When you come to the land that I give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath rest for Hashem; for six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard; and you may gather in your crop. But the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem; your field shall not sow and your vineyard shall not prune".

Just imagine if someone told you to close your store or your business for an entire year, every 7th year....how would you survive? If we can think about this concept, its an unbelievable test that these farmers must pass. The Torah is aware of this great test and in perek 25 pasuk 19 it says, "The land will give its fruit and you will eat your fill; you will dwell securely upon it". Rashi says on the words..."you will dwell securely" that in return for observing the Shemittah laws, they would not be exiled. Now Hashem offers assurances that those who let their land lie fallow will not suffer famine.

According to the Chatam Sofer, the laws ofShemittah prove that only Hashem is the author of our holy Torah, because this parasha guarantees that the year before Shemittah will produce a crop large enough to last for three years (the 6th, 7th and 8th years), until the next available crop is harvested. If a human being were inventing such a commandment, he would have to be crazy to make such a prediction because if it doesnt happen, he will be disproved...only G-D can make such a statement!

The reason for the Galut of 70 years that we went through between the first and second Bet Hamikdash is a calculation of all the Shemittah years that weren't observed properly. The Shemittah laws that Hashem imposed on us in this Parasha is an obligation for us and a test to follow Hashem. We might think that the soil is an inanimate object that doesn't need rest but Agriculturally it is a known fact that the land needs rest to grow produce properly. The Ohr Hachayim brings down that the sixth year which should be the weakest because the land produced for six straight years. That sixth year is the year that’s blessed to produce for 6th 7th and 8th years during Shemittah. Hashem gave us the land of Israel and He gave us rules, a set of instructions on how to use the land most effectively. The same way He gave us our lives to live by the rules of the Torah. Hashem is saying to us, that He gave us this land and it needs to rest for one year every 6 years in order for it to produce properly for us. Hashem is saying to us, this is a test just like our Shabbat, because our parnasah is not in our hands although we may believe that it comes from our efforts. Rabbi Diamond always taught us that our work is "Muchrah ve lo Moyile" which means "Its Necessary, but it doesn't do Anything" a very difficult concept for us to comprehend.

Hashem is simply saying to us...follow my rules, keep my laws and you'll have parnasah. Follow the laws of Shemittah, give tzedakah to the poor people by leaving what falls for them to collect. Do these things and you'll have parnasah! Hashem is saying, you must play by my rules, not by what you may think makes sense, because I (Hashem) make the rules and I (Hashem) run the world! Parnasah comes from Hashem, regardless of weather our human logic understands this concept or not.

Chazal continues and explains that the reason for the juxtaposition of the laws of Shemittah to the subsequent pesukiim dealing with a person who ascends to the lower levels of poverty is a direct reaction to someone who refuses to follow the Shemittah laws. If a person thinks it’s his know how that made him the money and doesn’t want to close his farm for a year as Hashem commanded him to, as in the Shemittah laws. Chazal is saying that if you try to defy Hashem by keeping the business going through the seventh year, it will not benefit you, on the contrary it will take you down a very slippery slope of poverty to the point where you’ll have to sell everything you own until you ultimately find yourself on the receiving end of charity.

There's an amazing documented true story that exemplifies this concept. This story occurred a few years ago about a farmer in Israel, that in the recent Shemittah year of 5775...(Sept 25, 2014 to Sept 13, 2015). During the summer of 2015, a brush fire broke out in Eretz Yisrael near Tel Aviv. Within minutes ALL of the fields turned to ashes. All the crops and produce were totally destroyed. However smack in the middle and in the center of all those fields there was one field, which had signs proclaiming that its owner proudly observed the laws of Shemittah.

Amazingly this lone field was untouched by the fire and remained perfectly intact and unharmed. Despite the fact that it contained large amounts of dry weeds and brush, this field remained totally unscathed! Imagine for a minute that a fire broke out on the block where you had your store and that was the only store that was closed on Shabbat and it was also the only store that didn't burn down amidst all the other stores on the block that did. What a miracle that would be!

Rambam says that the comparison between Shemittah and the Shabbat is that both bear testimony to Hashems creation of the universe in six days and His rest on the seventh. The seven years of the Shemitah cycle also alludes to the six thousand years of history that will be climaxed by the seventh Millenium and the guarantee of the Mashiach's arrival, which will be a period of peace and tranquility.

May we all have Emunah and Bitachon in Hashem that He will provide for us, as it says in the Torah when we follow His laws, despite the fact that they may defy human logic and because of this we may not always understand them. We must know that these laws of Shabbat and the laws of Shemittah of the land which Hashem gave to us are all for our benefit only! Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of

Rabbi Amram Sananes

Leiluiy Nishmat....

Eliyahu Ben Rachel Malka Bat Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Shulamit Bat Helaina Esther Bat Sarah

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rav Haim Ben Rivka Rafael Ben Miriam

Yitzchak Ben Adele Moshe Ben Mazal

Chanah Bat Esther Avraham Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Garaz Ovadia Ben Esther

Avraham Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal

Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa Avraham Ben Kami

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