Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
Dor Revi'i

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by Efraim Levine

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HaGoan R' Aaron Levine zt"l
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Hadrash Ve-Haiyan


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If you will say what will we eat in the seventh year? Behold we will not sow and we will not gather our crop! I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year and it will yield a crop sufficient for the three years. (Vayikra 25:20-21)

In this week痴 parsha we learn about the law of sh知itah. In the year of sh知itah we are not permitted to sow or work the land in any way whatsoever. The Torah promises us that crop of the previous year will carry us through the sh知itah year and beyond until we produce new grain. Through the law of sh知itah the Torah teaches us the concept of faith.

The commentators note that the Torah here uncharacteristically goes out of its way to mention that we will question Hashem as to how we can fulfill this mitzvah when it will result in our not being able to produce food. This question of how can we survive if we fulfill the mitzvah may be asked with regard to many mitzvos, specifically those that make it difficult to earn a livelihood or derive benefit from what the world has to offer. What unique lesson of faith is found in sh知itah that the Torah chose to emphasize the lesson of faith by even mentioning the question?

The commentators (see Windows to the Soul by Rabbi Dr. Bernstein) ask a simple question, when exactly will a person ask the question 努hat will we eat in the seventh year. It would seem that it will be asked in the beginning of the seventh year. One will say, if I do not plant in the beginning of this year, I will have nothing to eat at the end of the year. However, this seems difficult in light of the fact that the Torah has promised that the crop of the sixth year will be enough to carry us through three years. If the blessing has already been fulfilled in the sixth year then what is this individual worried about. At the beginning of the seventh year he still has two years of food in stock. He will be allowed to resume planting crops one whole year before his food runs out. We must therefore suggest that this question will be asked in the first six years of the sh知itah cycle, before the blessing has been fulfilled. However, this would seem to be even more difficult. At this time he has what to eat and is even allowed to work the land. Why is he worrying about what will be in a few years from now?

We may suggest that this is exactly why the Torah chose to emphasize the concept of faith specifically with regard to shi知itah. Typically, we assume that the test of faith occurs when we go through hard and difficult times. During good times when there is nothing to worry about we don稚 think much about faith. The Torah here teaches us that weakness in faith can be detected even in good times. During the first six years when there is plenty of food and we are permitted to produce more, we are already questioning Hashem as to what will be years later. From sh知itah we learn that the lessons of faith are to be learned in the good times of plenty. When the hard times come it will be difficult to overcome the test of faith if we are not prepared.


ゥ Efraim Levine 5760/2000 - 5764/2004