This is a
Mitzvah Ha’Tluya Ba’aretz
– it is onlypracticed in the Land of Israel. The
in short, consists of pausing all agricultural work every sevenyears. Just as
is a rest for the Jewish people once every seven days, so too, the
is a rest for the Landof Israel once every seven years.Numerous reasons are given for this
One example, crop rotation, undoubtedly makes the landmore fertile and allows it to produce better crops in the long run. However, if this were the case, it would be betterto take one seventh of the land and rotate it once every seven years.Other
stress that the observance of
reinforces the concept that all the land, including theland that we own, really belongs to Hashem. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the leader of Orthodoxy innineteenth century Germany, explains this concept beautifully: “A man of Israel remembers that his land belongsto G-d and that he is merely a stranger and a sojourner with G-d; he then neither works his land nor collects itsproduce to ensure his livelihood that year. Thus, the soil of the whole land is stamped as ownerless and for awhole year declares before all that Israe he l is not master of its land.”As our Sages put it:'' '' ''"Hashem said to Israel: Plant for six years and rest on the seventh so that you will know that the land is mine."Upon teaching this concept, a student once asked: "We know the land belongs to Hashem. Why do wehave to go a whole year without planting, harvesting, etc.?"I answered his question with a story I had once heard: A few hundred years ago, there was a great Rabbiknown as "
Der Yid, Hakadosh
" – meaning “the holy Jew.” When he was young, he was a
which means hisgreatness was unknown. As was the practice in those days, when he got married, the new couple wished to gainthe father-in-law’s financial support for a few years while the bridegroom devoted himself to learning Torah.Despite his skepticism, doubting that it was a wise "investment," the father-in-law agreed to the arrangement.After three years or so, he came back from the yeshiva, whereupon the father-in-law asked him, "Nu, sowhat did you learn in the yeshiva over these three years?"The
answered:" I learned that there's a God in the world!"The father-in-law, rather perturbed by the terse reply, said: "Is this what I sent you to yeshiva for threeyears to learn? Katarina,” the father-in-law beckoned to his Polish housekeeper, “come here, and tell me, whocreated the Heavens and the Earth?"She answered:"Why God, of course!"The father-in-law angrily turned on his son-in-law, “What you said, even Katarina knows!"
Der Yid Hakadosh
, thereupon exclaimed, "She
it, but I
it!"In other words, it's easy to pay lip service to the fact that the land belongs to Hashem, but for a Jew tocease all agricultural activity because he trusts Hashem is a great challenge. May we all merit an enhancedamount of
A publication of
Boys High School
In describing the creation of the world in Sefer Bereishis, the Torah describes that Hashem brought everything into being – the earth, the sky, the waters, vegetation, animals, etc. – already formed. When it came to the creation of man,however, the Pasuk says, “Let us make man.” What exactly is being “made” and who is the “us” performing the making? The Ba’al Shem Tov explains that since Hashem created everything fully formed, most products of creation are already mature in their original forms. Thus, no changes would be able to take place outside of Hashem’s initial structuring of that being. The only exception to this rule was man. Man was created with potential and free will, and he had the ability to determine his own fate. Yet to mature, man needs guidance and a connection to the One that gives him everything.Prayer is what connects man to his Creator, creating a relationship that nurtures his development. With this connection we may metaphorically participate in our creation, becoming the “us” in the Pasuk.
Knowing Rather than Saying
Rabbi Eliyahu Stewart