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    Parshas Behar
    begins with the laws
    of Shmita [the
    Sabbatical year].
    Observance of the
    Shmitah year is very
    difficult, particularly for farmers. Just
    imagine if the halacha required all of us
    to take a sabbatical from our jobs, drop
    what we have been doing, and forfeit
    our means of income for an entire year,
    once every 7 years!
    The Torah anticipates the difficulty of
    Shmitah-observance: “And 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]
    The Medrash calls the people who
    observe the Shmitah: “Masters of

    strength (giborei koach) who fulfill My
    words”. In other words, it takes
    tremendous courage and faith to observe
    the Shmitah. Those who fulfill it are
    deserving of great praise for being
    highly spiritual individuals.
    However, the question must be asked:
    Where is the great strength of faith in
    observing Shmitah? If the promise of “I
    will ordain My blessing for you in the
    sixth year…” comes true, then the
    farmer has already put away income for
    the seventh and eighth years from his
    bumper crop on the sixth year. He can
    sit back and draw on his reserves that
    are already in the bank! Where, then, is
    there manifestation of the attribute of
    ‘giborei koach’ [master of spiritual
    Had the promise been “Do not worry
    in the seventh year because money will
    come to you, somehow,” we would have

    understood the appropriateness of the
    term “giborei koach”. However, that is
    not what the pasuk says. The pasuk
    seemingly promises that already at the
    end of the sixth year, the farmer will
    have three times as much as normal. In
    those circumstances, seemingly great
    faith is not required to take a Sabbatical
    during the upcoming Shmitah year.
    The Shemen haTov makes an
    interesting observation which is really a
    reality of life. Human beings have an
    unbelievable capacity to forget. In other
    words, even though a person might have
    made triple his normal income in the
    sixth year, if in the middle of the seventh
    year he sees that there will be no income
    that year, he begins to get nervous. He
    does not like to have to draw down the
    reserves, which he has stashed away in
    the bank from his bumper crop in year
    six of the cycle! People forget that they
    made more than usual the previous year.

    We remember the “bad” but we do not
    remember the “good” so well. All too
    easily, we forget all the Kindnesses that
    the Almighty is always showering upon
    In fact, it takes strength and faith
    during the seventh year to not ask
    “what’s going to be?” when the land is
    lying fallow, regardless of how much
    money one was able to stash away
    during the sixth year. Such an attitude is
    truly worth the accolade of “Masters of
    strength (giborei koach) who fulfill My