Parashat BeHar BeHukotai- The Product of the Land is Not From My Hand
Imagine a world where you know HaKadosh Barukh Hu exists, but there is no such thing as missvot. You would wake up in the morning, no Modeh Ani, no Netillat Yadayim, no davening. Then you would proceed to eating breakfast, no berakhot before food, no berakhot after. Comes time for Minha; nothing to say here. Feels weird, right? How would we connect to HaShem in such a world? He seems so distant this way! Since we do missvot automatically, sometimes we don’t stop to consider what life would be like without them—empty. Do you see now how doing missvot are the prime connection between us and HaShem? Missvot are constant opportunities to bond with HaShem. If we didn’t have missvot, has ve’Shalom it would be so easy to forget HaShem within even a day. Missvot serve as constant reminders that HaKadosh Barukh Hu exists and that He is the One in control.
One such missva is that of shemitah. In Parashat BeHar, we learn that every seventh year in Eress Yisrael, every single Jew must stop working the land. For six years we work the land, and HaKadosh Barukh Hu promises us that if on the seventh year we refrain from working the land, He will bless us with an abundance of three times what grows each year—one for the sixth year, one for the seventh year, and even one for the year after, the ‘eighth’ year.
Out of all the missvot given on Har Sinai (that’s why this week’s Parashah is called ‘BeHar’- ‘On the Mountain’), why is shemitah so important that it is mentioned especially now? It only applies to farmers working the land, and only to those in Eress Yisrael! But we all learn something so important from shemitah that it becomes the entire basis for accepting the entire Torah.
In Talmud, a farmer is known as ‘Emunah’. More than any other profession, a farmer requires the most Emunah in order to be successful. After planting a seed, other than watering it, there is not much else in his control to ensure that his crop will grow abundantly. He can only pray. A farmer relies on his Emunah. When HaKadosh Barukh Hu, in His infinite wisdom, commands us to take every seventh year off from working the field, He is telling us, It is not you who makes it all happen, it is all ME. When the crop grows well, it’s not because you picked the best soil and the best seeds and watered it just the right way, it’s because HaShem makes it that way! Even if you take an entire year off from working the land, not only do you not lose out, you gain threefold! Only Bitahon has the power to achieve this.
This is why the pasuk says ‘Ki Tavo’u el ha’Aress ASHER ANI NOTEN LAKHEM’, ‘When you come to the land that I AM GIVING YOU’. HaKadosh Barukh Hu is giving us this land, it is not the product of our hands! Sometimes, when we work very hard on something, it becomes very tempting to think that it was our own efforts that got it for us, ‘Kohi ve’Ossem Yadi Asah Li Et HaHayil HaZeh’. But this indeed is not true. HaShem, and HaShem only is the one giving you all this berakhah. If a person truly understands this, they have no problem taking a year off from working in order to learn Torah and focus more on their ruhani, spiritual side. If anything, what a privilege!
Okay, but most of us aren’t farmers. What can we do to demonstrate this special Bitahon in HaShem? Shemitah is every seven years, but we have something even more often that we may not realize has the same concept behind it—Shabbat Kodesh! Every seventh day, we take a day off from working and declare, HaShem, YOU are the one who is in control, not me. Whether or not I work does not make a difference, all my berakhah comes from YOU. Today I will rest from physical work so I can have the privilege of indulging in my Neshamah’s needs, since I know that my physical needs are already being taken care of by YOU HaShem. And of course, we all know, whoever does not work on Shabbat in fact gains more during the week—on many levels. Shabbat isn’t something designed to make us feel restricted, it is truly a gift from our Abba in Shamayim who is telling us, Don’t worry, take the day off today, take care of what really matters, I’ve got the rest covered.
What we have to realize is that whether it be on Shabbat Kodesh or shemitah, HaShem Yitbarakh does not need the work of our hands; He can instantly replicate it Himself. What He wants from us is our Emunah, Bitahon, and adherence to His Missvot. That can only come from us, HaShem won’t do it for us. ‘HaKol be’Yedei Shamayim, Huss me’Yiraat Shamayim’; Everything is from Heaven except for Fear of Heaven itself. We are blessed with every seventh day, and every seventh year to do just this—to work on things that we in fact, are in control of.
This is why in Parashat BeHukotai we have a choice, ‘Eem beHukotai Telekhu’, IF you go in the ways of My missvot. What does this mean? That we can choose whether or not we do the missvot. IF we do them, HaKadosh Barukh Hu promises us that we will be blessed, and IF not, then has ve’Shalom, the opposite. Again, HaShem controls the entire world, but the only thing that is in our control is the choosing how much Yiraat Shamayim, Fear of Heaven, that we have.
Some people feel that by doing the missvot they are sacrificing a lot, and by putting all our faith in HaShem they are risking too much. But this is not true! Sheker! Exactly by devoting ourselves to HaShem and putting our lives in the Hands of HaShem who is far more powerful than us will we yield all the more berakha. If we rely on our own limited efforts, we will bear limited results. But if we let the Master of the entire world take care of it for us then don’t you think you will end up with much more?
The most expensive coffee and cake in a hotel in the city costs around 150 dollars. I’m not sure why somebody would spend that much but if a worker in the same hotel takes a lunch break, the owner of the hotel tells him he could take whatever he wants for free and to enjoy it. Decide, do you want to be an independent businessman who has to always support himself fully, or do you become a devoted worker of an all powerful corporation and enjoy all its perks?
Be’Ezrat HaShem may we all come to the realization that we are devoted workers of HaShem and because of this, we may benefit from every privilege and enjoy from every pleasure that comes along with it. May we understand that Bitahon is a direct funnel from us to HaShem in Shamayim that brings to us all the berakhot in the world; just like the pipe can’t have any holes or damages in it, neither can our Bitahon, otherwise, we lose out on what was supposed to originally come to us. May our Bitahon be complete! In this zekhout, may we merit every berakha directly from Shamayim and realize where it is truly coming from!
Wishing every beautiful Neshamah a Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorakh! Enjoy this special privilege!