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Parashas Behar Bechukosai
Parashas Behar Bechukosai
"Chaim, you're not going to believe this."
"Believe what, Avi?"
"Believe what my teacher taught us today about the Shmitta (Sabbatical) year."
"Is that the year where the farmer is forbidden to work the land?"
"Correct, Chaim. Once every seven years the land is allowed to rest."
"What's so unbelievable about that? Crop rotation is supposed to be a good thing."
"My teacher quoted Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l, the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva."
"What did he say?"
"Those who observed the Shmitta year were like heavenly angels. Their strength was unfathomable. How can it be that a person can achieve such great things from the mitzvah of Shmitta?"
"Let's think about this a minute, Avi. Let us try to imagine ourselves back in the days of the Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple)."
And so, Chaim begins to tell a story.
"Abba, thank you so much for taking such good care of us. Boruch Hashem, we have a nice farm, and every day you go out and work the fields. You plow, plant, and tend to the crops. When they are fully grown, you pick them and bring them to Imma to cook into the delicious meals that we eat. We are so fortunate that we have such a farm and that it is able to provide food for our family."
"Kinderlach, do you know what next year is?"
"The Shmitta (sabbatical) year. Next year I take a big vacation - no plowing, planting, cultivating or working the land. We will see what will grow by itself. Even those crops will not be ours. They are hefker (ownerless) and free for anyone to take."
"But Abba, what will we have to eat next year? If you do not work the land, and anyone can take what grows by itself, we will have hardly any food."
"Kinderlach, the Torah asks the exact same question in Vayikra, chapter 25, verse 20. The answer is that Hashem will provide for us. This year He will give us enough food to last until after the Shmitta year."
Kinderlach . . .
That is the way it was. There are no records of any famine ever occurring amongst the Jewish people in Biblical times as a result of keeping the Shmitta year. In the times of the Beis HaMikdash, farming was the main occupation of the Jewish people. Without the crops of the farm, there would be literally no food to eat. Observing the Shmitta was therefore a very big test of one's trust in Hashem. That is why Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says that those who observe Shmitta were compared to heavenly angels who have no desire to go against Hashem's will. That is the strength of their trust in Him.
"Welcome to Eretz Yisrael, cousin Dovid and family!"
"Thank you for the wonderful welcome cousin Betzalel. We are very happy and grateful to be here. In fact, we thank Hashem that we are alive."
"You must be feeling that way because of the hurricane that hit your city last month."
"That's right, cousin Betzalel. The powerful winds caused so much destruction. We were saved. Boruch Hashem, our house had a foundation."
"Did that make a difference, cousin Dovid?"
"It surely did. Buildings that were built with strong concrete foundations survived the 150 mile per hour winds. Other buildings that were merely built on top of the ground just blew away."
"You're not going to believe this, cousin Dovid, but Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l uses the same parable to describe the middah (character trait) that we are working on this week - the sixth week of Sefiras HaOmer."
"Please share his insight with me cousin Betzalel. It sounds fascinating."
"Each of the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuos has its own middah. If we take the responsibility of working on improving that middah during that week, we will receive tremendous Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance). The success that we enjoy will have an impact on all of the rest of the weeks of the year."
"On a simple level, when one acquires a good middah, it becomes his. He now has a skill that he can use whenever he needs it. The middah of the second week is gevura (self control). If he gains more inner strength during the second week, he can use it the rest of his life, whenever he needs to resist temptation."
"On a deeper level, the Arizal says that these seven weeks are the 'roots' of the entire year. Hashem looks at our deeds during these weeks, evaluates them, and guides the events of the rest of the year based upon that. So you see, cousin Dovid, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us."
"Let's get started cousin Betzalel! What is the middah of the week?"
"It is called 'yesod,' which means foundation. The foundation is the strong connection between the building and the ground. So too, one who has the middah of yesod is strongly connected to Hashem."
"Practically speaking, how does he forge this strong connection?"
"He is always thinking about The Almighty. Everything that he does is for Hashem. He eats to gain the energy to serve Hashem. He learns Torah to know the will of Hashem. He acts kindly towards his people because they are Hashem's children. He sleeps to gain strength to serve The Creator. He uses his money only for Hashem's mitzvos. Even his thoughts are dedicated exclusively to Torah and mitzvos. He is constantly addressing himself to his Master."
"It is not hard to understand why he forms a close connection, cousin Betzalel. If you think about anyone or anything constantly, you will become attached to it. How much more so The Holy One, Blessed Be He, who gives you Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance) every step along the way as you put in the effort to be close to Him."
"Exactly, cousin Dovid. A tsaddik has the middah of yesod, as the verse states, 'Tsaddik yesod olam' (a tsaddik is the foundation of the world) [Mishlei 10:25]. The Metsudas Dovid explains that a tsaddik is steadfast. He is so totally dedicated to serving Hashem, that he becomes as stable [in his emunah (faith)] as the bedrock of the world. Therefore, when troubles come along, the wicked people become flustered, and lose their trust in Hashem. However, the tsaddik is so strongly attached to The Almighty that nothing shakes his emunah. The Malbim goes even further and states that the tsaddik's close relationship with The Creator serves as the foundation which supports not only himself, but the entire world."
"What an accomplishment!"
"Yes. These are the heights that a person can reach by coming close to Hashem."
Kinderlach . . .
This is the week to strengthen our connection to Hashem. How? By always thinking about Him. By relating everything that we do to Him. By serving Him with our every thought and every action every moment of every day. Rav Avigdor Miller says that constantly thinking about Hashem is one of life's greatest accomplishments. This is what brings a person close to Hashem. This is what forges a strong connection between him and his Creator. This is the middah of yesod - foundation. Build a strong foundation this week, kinderlach. Attach yourself firmly to Hashem and become a tsaddik yesod olam.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2015 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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