Whilst looking at all the Mitzvot in the Torah, the observance of Shemita is one of the most difficult ones to observe. To have your field remain fallow throughout the entire year demands a strong level of Emuna – faith – as it takes away the livelihood of the individual throughout the year of Shemita.
Last week in Parshat Kedoshim, the Torah tells us that one must leave the corners of the field and the produce that is forgotten for the poor people to come and collect. This is followed by the Mitzvah in this week’s Parsha, Parshat Behar, not to work in ones field every seventh year. Why is it that Hashem encourages and demands such great sacrifice from the farmer?
When we look further into the Parsha, Hashem promises to provide the Jewish people with overwhelming abundance to compensate for the loss of labour of the entire year. The Torah asks ‘If you will ask what we will eat in the seventh year?’ Hashem promises us that in the sixth year of harvest there will be sufficient produce for three years; the sixth, seventh and even the eighth year.
In LekuteiSichos, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the six years of Shemita reflect the six thousand years of the world’s existence. The seventh year represents the days of Moshiach. Just as we are commanded by Hashem to work for six days and rest on the day of Shabbos, the same could be said of the six thousand years of the worlds existence Furthermore, the six days of work are a preparation for Shabbos, which prepare the world for the ultimate Shabbos, the seventh millennium, the coming of Moshiach.
One may ask at the end of the sixth year period, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year?’ How can our generation, which is so far removed from the holiness and spirituality of the Beit Hamikdash, possibly bring about the final redemption, the seventh year, the ultimate Shabbos? Especially as the spirituality of our generation is much less in comparison to those of previous generations. How can we do this?
The Parshah continues with Hashem telling us, don’t despair! ‘I will place my blessing to you in the sixth year.’ Hashem has empowered our generation with strength, courage and ability despite our spiritual low level. In some way the Mesirat Nefesh – self-sacrifice of our generation to keep the spark of Yiddishkeit shining bright is more difficult then ever before, yet we know Hashem doesn’t ask of us more then we can handle. Therefore, He gives us the strength in the sixth year.
The message of the Mitzvah of Shemita can be absorbed in our six days of the week, utilising every moment to elevate and to uplift the physical and material world with the holiness of Torah and Mitzvos. And then when we finally reach the seventh year, the year of Shemita, it allows us to focus on the fact that even with our success in the previous six years, ultimately everything depends on the will and the Bracha of Hashem and we put our trust and faith not in man but in Hashem.
Every seven years, we remove ourselves from certain physical aspects of this world and we draw strength through the knowledge that Hashem will provide and infuse the world with all of His Brachos.
May we merit that in this year of Hakhel, the promise and blessing of the Shmita year will be fulfilled with the coming of Moshiach, who will usher in a time when all of Israel will once again be reunited. A time when we will merit to build the third Beit Hamikdosh. A time during which all of humanity and the world will finally experience true peace and harmony.