Parshat Behar-Bechukotai: What Will We Eat In The Seventh Year?!


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

24 Iyar 5767/11-12 May 2007


The central question that comes up in this week’s parsha is: Being that a Jew is commanded to rest from work in his fields in the seventh year, what, then, will he and his family eat that year? Moreover, he would not have food until the end of the eighth year, until the crops that he planted after the Shmitta year begin to grow. What, then, will he eat for almost two years? How will he support his family during this time? Where is his responsibility to his family as the breadwinner? How will the kids go to summer camp, and what about our vacation? What on earth will the neighbors

Truth be told, there is no greater test for a person in this world than the test of parnassa; in fact, this will be one of the three questions which are asked of a person on the Day of Judgment: Did he act correctly in his business dealings? How many of us would have enough faith in Hashem, that we would stop working for a year and trust in Him to provide during that time?

The Shortest Religion

Not only is the Shmitta year a great test in our faith in Hashem, but it is also the proof of the truth of the Torah. Imagine a king who promised to pay a servant a nice reward for a certain job; if the king does not fulfill his word and pay the worker, the next time the king asks the servant to do a job, the servant will certainly not listen. Now, with regard to Shmitta, the King of Kings tells us that in the sixth year a person will receive double his wages, enough for the sixth and seventh year. The truth of the Torah would hinge on what happens in the sixth year. Would it bring double the supplies for the coming years or not? All it would take would be for the sixth year to come and go without any additional food, and it would be the end of the Jewish religion.

The Magic Seven

In the parsha, we are confronted many times over with the number seven: Seven days of the week, the Omer counting of seven weeks - 49 days, seven years until the Shmitta year, and seven Shmitta cycles of 49 years total. What do they all have in common? Faith! Faith that G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The Omer counting - as our Rabbis teach us: By what merit did the Jewish people inherit the Land of Israel? By virtue of their faith, manifested by their bringing the Omer offering. Shmitta - by having faith that Hashem will provide for the coming years, even though you are not working the land. And the seven Shmitta cycle of 49 years - The Yovel - by releasing all of the slaves and returning the land to its original owner. This was a great act of faith demonstrated by the Jew's attitude: Even though I no longer have my slaves and properties, I continue to believe in Hashem, that He will sustain me.

Faith in Hashem is certainly not an easy task, but one which Hashem requires from us time and again, the yardstick by which all is measured. But it is not measured just by our lip service - it must be backed up by deeds. Do we sit in the synagogue, crying out |"G-d is One", extending the "One"-"Achad" for all to hear and see just how frum we are, but would not dare come home to the Land of Israel, for surely in the Land G-d cannot give me my parnassa... How long will we continue to be the little people, people of little faith, going though the religious motions but not really believing in an all-powerful G-d, Mover of history Who can also get you through the day in the Land of Israel! Faith, true faith backed by deeds is the only road to the Final Redemption! Show G-d you really believe – Come home now!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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