Published Date: May 18, 2020
This week’s music: One Love
Everything is just falling right into place. We are looking forward to reentering the work force, societal obligations and the pursuit of happiness of everyday life, and which Torah portion do we read? A double message, “B’har and Bechkotai.”
The number one inside message of B’har is how deep we need to commit and where we need to go to concretize our faith in God. Hashem tells Moshe Rabenu “Speak to the B’nai Yisrael at Mount Sinai, and say to them, “Ki tavo’u el haaretz,” “…when you come into The Land that I am giving you, immediately you must let the land rest and lay fallow.” How so? The Torah continues, “Six years you should plant your fields, six years you should prune your vineyards (“tizmor karmecha”) and gather together the grains it produces. And in the seventh year there is a Shabbat of Shabbat in The Land, a Shabbat to God…” (Vayikra 25.1-4). Don’t plant, prune or harvest. It’s Shabbat in The Land!” What a commitment. I enter The land for the first time and immediately Hashem is letting us know. This Land is like no other that you have seen or heard about. Only in this Land can you leave the land lie fallow for a year and fully trust that you will have what to eat. What a commitment being presented to our forefathers whose number one occupation was farming. That’s what they knew. That’s was the vehicle of work via which they received their entire “parnasah,” their only source of income. No stock deals, no royalties, no new contracts, simply farming The Land. Farming The Land , about whom Moshe Rabenu tried to explain to the “meraglim,” spies (Bamidbar 13.17-20) this is the land of the supernatural. It lives beyond nature. As long as you, B’nai Yisrael, are dwelling in The Land, The land will blossom for you beyond your understanding of nature. Sound familiar? Who is there today, who pays attention to our history and surroundings, that has not realized that the amount of fruit, of all categories of life, that we receive in this Land is mamash beyond the world of nature?
How did they do it? Their leaders did not have what it took to accept that aspect of God simply being nature and beyond, but the people, when they went in, had that level of faith. In that way, they could easily accept the premise and command that God wants this special Land to rest every seven, as He did when he created this world. The Slonimer Rebbe explains that we are talking about “emunah,” belief, on a different level. Not simply intellectual belief, not just belief in my heart, but belief with all of my being which is based on my trust, “bitachon,” in Hashem. They understood, as we should, that when they went into the Land, all of their “parnasah,” was sent by Hashem. Their working The Land for six years was simply a testimony to their commitment to having the honor of living in The Land which Hashem bestowed upon them and hence upon us. Naturally if Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, if we are blessed to have our personal, family, communal Shabbat, day of rest, each week, so too the Land, God’s land which was now ours, needed to dwell in the same frame of spiritual mind and existence. This, the first verse attests to, was solidified at Mount Sinai, immediately prior to and during the giving of the ten commandments, the entire Torah and all of its laws.
When I think about the experience of living in the midst of the plague of the corona virus, I can’t help but realize that only Hashem could send down a miniscule virus, unseen to the naked eye, that would change the whole world picture in such a short amount of time. Now that I have the merit to go back into and further explore His Land, I need to respect and honor The Land, all of it’s holy inhabitants and of course Hashem Himself. So I too can be ready to take a break from thinking that I am in control and allow Hashem to do His work. The difference now is that perhaps I have learned to fully trust Him at the wheel. This is the prime lesson which we can learn from this week’s opening portion.
The connected portion of Bechukotai has much to offer us in this spiritual connection to our lives, each other and our Creator.
The second of our portions this week, Bechukotai, begins with Hashem promising security to those who follow in his ways “Vishavtem Lavetach Bartzechem You will dwell with security in your Land” (Vayikra 26.3-5).
The verse immediately following seems to be redundant as Hashem then continues, “V’natati Shalom Ba’aretz and I will give Peace in the land.”Both great sages Ramban and Ohr Hahchaim imply the same question. There is already security in the land, what now do we need to do more to have Peace? They both stress the same answer. Security is something that God grants to us, but if we want Peace, this is something that we need to do between ourselves.
If we dream of Peace, if we dream to serve Hashem in the Beit Hamikdash, if we dream of a world where no one needs to get hurt, then we each need to start that process right now. We need to do it ourselves and we need to teach it to our children as a priority for our people. It is very beautiful that many of our brothers and sisters want to fix the world and others want to help their friends by bringing them to a way that they believe is closer to Hashem, but first and foremost, I need to fix myself. “Inreach,” as Shlomo called it. I can’t know how to love someone if I don’t learn how to love myself. I can’t help fix someone else if I don’t first fix myself.
May Hashem bless us with the strength to reverse the process of hatred into one of endless eternal love .
Shabbat is undoubtedly the day to dig in deep and begin this new journey which is being presented to us in our time.