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Parashat Behar

Dedicated Leilui Nishmat Rachel Bat Zakiah by the Kafif Family

Parashat Behar

In previous parashiot we learned about the mitzva of Shabbat. For six days we have an obligation to work. On the seventh day we are not allowed to work, as it should be a holy day for us to become close to Hashem!

Shemitta, Shabbat For The Land…

Now we’re about to learn about another Shabbat, and that is Shemitta — the Shabbat for the land to rest. Rambam says that the comparison between Shemitta and the Shabbat is that both bear testimony to Hashem’s creation of the universe in six days and His rest on the seventh. The seven years of the Shemitta cycle also alludes to the six thousand years of history that will be climaxed by the seventh millennium the Mashiah’s arrival, which will be a period of peace and tranquility.

It says in the first passuk, “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; you shall not sow your field, and you shall not prune your vineyard.”

Just imagine if someone told you to close your business for an entire year, every seventh year....How would you survive? If you think about this concept, it’s an unbelievable test that these farmers must pass.

Hashem’s Promise

Now Hashem offers assurances that those who let their land lie fallow will not suffer famine. This parasha guarantees that the year before Shemitta will produce a crop large enough to last for three years (the sixth, seventh, and eighth years), until the crop planted in the eight year is harvested.

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. Hashem gave us the land of Israel, and He gave us a set of instructions on how to use the land most effectively. Hashem is saying to us, that He gave us this land and it needs to rest for one year every six years in order for it to produce properly for us.

The Or HaHayyim brings down that the sixth year — which should be the weakest because the land produced for six straight years — is the year that’s blessed to produce for sixth, seventh, and eighth years.

According to the Hatam Sofer, the laws of Shemitta prove that only Hashem could be the author of our holy Torah. If a human being invented such a commandment, he would have to be crazy to make such a promise — because if it wouldn’t happen, he would be disproven. Only G-d can make such a statement!

Shemitta and Galut

In perek 25 passuk 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 Shemitta laws, the Jews would not be exiled.

We were in galut for seventy years between the first and second Bateh Mikdash because of seventy Shemitta years which were not properly observed.

Parnasah Comes from Hashem

Hashem is saying to us: “This is a test just like Shabbat, because your parnasah is not in your hands, although you may believe that it comes from your efforts.” Rabbi Diamond always taught us that our work is muchrach ve’lo moyil, which means, “it’s necessary, but it doesn’t do anything” — a very difficult concept for us to comprehend. Parnasah comes from Hashem, regardless of whether our human logic understands this concept or not.

Chazal explain the reason that the laws of Shemitta are juxtaposed with the subsequent pesukim dealing with a person who descends to the lower levels of poverty. Poverty is a direct consequence for refusing to follow the Shemitta laws. Chazal say that if you try to defy Hashem by keeping your farm 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.

Hashem is simply saying to us: Follow My rules, keep My laws and you’ll have parnasah. Follow the laws of Shemitta, and give tzedaka to the poor people by leaving the produce that falls in the field for them to collect. Do these things and you’ll have parnasah! 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!

Rabbi Avraham Bukspan writes in his book “Classics & Beyond” most often we are caught up in worry about our own needs rather than those of our neighbors needs. If my neighbor comes running to me frantic that he won’t be able to pay his rent that’s past due, I console him by saying “ Relax, have Bitachon, Hashem is big and it will all work out.” They are kind words but they’re just words. When it comes to ourselves, however, we’re busy saving money for our newborn infant for college, sometimes at the expense of our spiritual growth. We live in fear and concern, while we tell our friend to have faith and trust.

Rav Yisrael Salantar was quoted as saying, “We worry about our own physical needs and everyone else’s spiritual needs” yet it should be the reverse. Our concern should be for our neighbors physical needs and our own spiritual needs.” I need to strengthen my own bitachon in Hashem, while saving the worry for other people. With this in mind Rav Yaakov Yosef writes that we can explain the positioning of the section of laws of one who becomes poor just after the laws regarding Shemittah. Observing Shemitttah constitutes a yearlong lesson in bitachon in Hashem. It takes courage, but the reward is great; my family is provided for, while my level of bitachon takes a quantum leap. We see firsthand the power of Hashem—that there is really nothing to worry about.

Keeping Shabbat Is The Source of Our Blessings...

Listen to a story about Alan who was working on a major business deal for a long time. He wanted it very badly, but it looked like it was falling through. He had recently become close with a Rabbi, who told him, “Maybe it’s Hashem getting you to improve. How’s your Shabbat observance?” The man admitted that he doesn’t keep Shabbat at all. “Why don’t you take the first step and stop using your phone on Shabbat?” the Rabbi suggested, and Alan agreed.

The following week, the people with whom he was negotiating called back and said they were still interested. However, he would be competing with four major companies for the deal.

Alan told the Rabbi, “I am nowhere near the size of my competitors. I can’t offer what they can. What should I do?” “Don’t worry,” the Rabbi replied. “You have Hashem. Accept upon yourself to improve even more. Keep Shabbos entirely and go to shul for prayers, as well.” Alan followed the Rabbi’s advice. It was so difficult for him not to touch any of his electronic devices! But he combated his urges, and succeeded.

Not too long after he began his Shabbat observance, he was awarded the business deal against all odds, and for much less money than then others offered. Alan’s main prize is that he is keeping Shabbat now. The deal was the means to his gain!

May we all have emuna and bitachon in Hashem that He will provide for us, as the Torah says that He will when we follow His laws, even if they defy human logic. We must know that these laws of Shabbat and Shemitta which Hashem gave to us will benefit us in many ways! Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Discussion Points:

· How would you feel if Hashem commanded you to not work for a whole year every seven years?

· How good is your Shabbat Observance?

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Leiluiy Nishmat....

Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah

Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam

Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal

Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal

Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther

Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal

Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal

Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami

Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael

Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel

Yaakov Ben Leah Saadia Ben Miriam

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

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