Behar 5762

Posted on March 23, 2011

by Eitan Konigsburg

One of the major topics that is discussed in Parshat Behar is the law of Shemittah for the land of Eretz Yisrael. Every seven years, the physical land of the biblical Eretz Yisrael gets a rest, where no one is allowed to work the land, and no one owns property anymore. The fields are open to all those who want to eat from it’s contents, and farmers are supported economically by a double harvest in the sixth year of this cycle.

These laws show us a few important things. First of all, we must realize that everything physical does not belong to us. We come, perhaps control the physical for a while, and then we die. We can’t own anything that endures beyond us. This is especially true for the land. We can use the land for productive purposes, to eat and survive, but it is not permanently ours to keep. What this means is, that we can never have a complete and total claim of land for eternity. At some point, it can be, and might be taken away, or in the case of Israel, lawfully removed from our possession.

This is an important idea for the State of Israel today. Both Arabs and Israelis are claiming rights to a strip of land in the Middle East. However, this idea shows us that the land is never “ours” or “theirs.” In fact, back in Parshat Acharei Mot, we learn the idea that Jews can lose their right to Eretz Yisrael. If we do not follow the laws of Judaism, the land will “vomit” us out, because it can’t tolerate that behavior. And the contrary is true as well, if we merit it, the land is productive and fat. This is literally true. Througout history, it has been only Jews who have been able to make the desert bloom. Satellite images of the Middle East clearly mark Israel’s borders by the green trees. It wasn’t called the “Green Line” for nothing.

A while back, sages in Israel called a fast day as a method to respond to terror attacks in Israel. It is certainly true that we need the introspection to understand our flaws, and to promise our return to Jewish ways, and changing of our actions. Then we can merit the land. Our enemies won’t attack us, and we can live in peace once again. According to Rashi, the purpose of creation was so that a nation of Jews can live in a specific spot, Eretz Yisrael, but only if we deserve it. Now go out, strive to improve your religious life, so we, as a nation can keep the wonderful State of Israel.