Behar 5771

Posted on May 16, 2011

by Josh Seed, 2010-11 ECRUSY Religion/Education Vice President and 2011 Religion/Education International General Board member

In today’s world of routine, we can sometimes forget the one responsible for the everyday miracles in our lives. The concept of bitachon, or trust in God, plays a critical role in Jewish thought. Just as a person should strive to observe the mitzvot, they should also try to develop a consciousness that God is actively involved in everything that we do.

This idea can be seen in this week’s parashah of Behar. The beginning of the portion reads, “The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the Lord. Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune you vineyard.” (Vayikra 25:1-4)

Much of the parashah is devoted to a description of laws concerning shmita, or the sabbatical year, which takes place in the Land of Israel every seventh year. During shmita, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity is forbidden. In Biblical times, debts were also cancelled on the shmita year, and servants were set free.
The mitzvah of Shmita begs a very important question: What food will we eat during this seventh year of rest? God, however, assures us not to worry. “And you should ask, “What are we to eat in the seventh year if we may neither sow nor gather in our crops?” I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it shall yield a crop sufficient for three years.” (Vayikra: 25:20-21)

The promise that God makes is very much like the double portion of manna that would fall before Shabbat or a holiday. In this sense, the shmita years mirrors Shabbat whose major function is to remind us that it is God who created the world and continues to maintain it. Although we all live very busy lives, we must always take a moment to stop and appreciate the miracles that we are blessed with every single day.