The first Mitzvah at the very beginning this week’s parsha, Parshat Behar, is the commandment of observing the shemita year, a year of resting from all agricultural work within Eretz Yisrael. The Torah commands that the ground should lie fallow and the farmer should abstaine from his regular routine of work. Many mefarshim on this mitzvah attempt to explain the reasoning behing this specific mitzvah, and most come to a stunning conclusion. One may think that the mitzvah is simply for the benefit of the farmer or the benefit of the land, and that the purpose of this agricultural shabbos is to allow for the land to re-fertilize itself and not become void of all nutrients, but that is not the case. This re-fertilization is simply a tangential benefit of the mitzvah and the reasoning behind the mitzvah taps into a much deeper and more meaningful lesson that can be learned out from the Torahs reference to shmita as shabbos.
Just as every seven days brings with it a kedush and menuchat hanefesh, so too every seven years brings with it a year of kedusha. Just as the weekly Shabbos is meant to remind us of Hashem’s creation of the universe so too does the shemita year testify to Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s supremacy and existence in all of our daily affairs.
The basis and starting point of all of emunah and bitachon is the realization that all life only exist because and as Hashem wills it to, that every single and miniscule event in our lives are directly from Hashem and he is playing an active role in each of us individuality. Since the weekly Shabbos sometimes is taken for granted as it becomes a routine part of our existence, the seven year Shabbos comes to shock us out of our complacency and to have us recognize or at least acknowledge the unmistakable hand of Hakadosh Baruch Hu in our lives.
Shemitta has always been a difficult test of faith for Klal Yisrael. The Torah promised prosperity for the observance of shemitta, but the people lacked in proper emunah and feared the effects it scould have on their lives.
The challenge posed by the shemitta remains constant in Jewish life. As long as there is not a proper balance between human effort and ultimate faith in Hashem we remain a somewhat dysfunctional imperfect society. The shemitta reminds us of our dependence upon God, that there are events that are not within our human power to control, and that these events are coming as a direct and personalized message from Hashem. Even if we are unable to fulfill the shemitta commandment fully as of yet, the idea behind it begs for our attention and is screaming to be heard over a life of complacency.
Boy Studying in Mevaseret