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    Parashat Behar
    discusses the
    fascinating Misva
    of Shemita, which
    requires abstaining
    from all agricultural work in Eretz Yisrael
    every seventh year. Additionally, all
    produce that grows in the seventh year may
    not be harvested and stored by the owners,
    and must instead be left for anybody who
    wishes to take it.
    The Torah anticipated that people might
    wonder how they could survive observing
    such a command: “If you say, ‘What shall
    we eat in the seventh year, given that we
    will not plant or collect our produce?’”
    (25:20). G-d responds: “I shall command
    My blessing for you in the sixth year, and
    [the land] shall yield produce for the three
    years – you will plant in the eighth year and
    feed off the old produce until the ninth year,
    when its produce arrives…” (25:21-22).
    In other words, the Torah is telling the
    people: “Work less, and you’ll earn more.”
    To put this into terms we can relate to,
    imagine a businessman closing his store for
    an entire year, and being guaranteed that he
    will earn greater profits this way. Business
    will be so good in the sixth year, before the

    store closes for the seventh, that the owner
    will be even better off by closing for the
    seventh year than if he would if he remains
    open for that year.
    Of course, no business consultant would
    ever recommend such a strategy for
    increasing revenue.
    And this is precisely the message of
    Shemita – that it is Hashem, and not our
    business endeavors, that brings us our
    livelihood. The Torah commands the people
    to do something that should, by natural
    causes, result in financial ruin, assuring
    them that it will bring them great prosperity,
    instead – thereby reinforcing the belief
    that although we are required to work hard
    to earn a living, the success of our work
    depends solely and entirely on G-d, as
    it is He, and only He, who brings us our
    We might ask, however, why does G-d
    say in the verses cited above that He will
    “command” His blessing during the sixth
    year to sustain the people? A “command”
    refers to something which could meet with
    resistance, that people might not want to do.
    How is this term appropriate when speaking
    about G-d’s blessing? Does G-d need to
    “command” His blessing?

    A powerful explanation to this verse was
    suggested by Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk
    (1717-1786). He noted that the question,
    “What shall we eat in the seventh year?”
    is, in truth, misguided. After all, G-d fed
    Beneh Yisrael manna for forty years in the
    desert, when they had no fields at all and
    were completely incapable of producing
    their own food. He brought ten miraculous
    plagues upon the Egyptians, and split the
    sea to allow Beneh Yisrael to cross. For
    that matter, He created the universe. Is
    there any question that He could sustain
    us if we don’t work the land once in seven
    years? Compared to other things G-d has
    done and does, this is no big deal at all. The
    farmer who asked, “What shall we eat in
    the seventh year?” should never have asked
    such a question, because it is obvious that
    G-d can provide sustenance regardless of
    how much or how little the farmer works.
    And for this reason, Rav Elimelech
    explained, G-d responds that He will
    “command” His blessing. If the people don’t
    ask this question, and trust that Hashem
    will provide for them, then the blessing
    flows naturally. But when they lack faith,
    and they begin worrying and wondering
    how they will survive, then Hashem has
    to “command” the blessing. Anxiety about

    our livelihood causes a “blockage” in the
    pipelines of blessing, and thus G-d needs
    to “push” His blessing through the blocked
    pipes. This is the meaning of the phrase, “I
    shall command My blessing.”
    If we want the blessing to flow, we should
    place our full trust in the Almighty’s ability
    and kindness. We must believe that He can
    and wants to care for us and support us, that
    we don’t need to worry, that no matter what
    the circumstances are, He will provide our
    needs. Although we must be responsible
    and put in the effort to support ourselves,
    we must place our trust in G-d and realize
    that ultimately, He provides our livelihood
    and is always there helping us. If we live
    with this faith, then we will never need to
    worry, and will always feel confident and
    secure that our needs are being cared for.