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Friday, Iyar 21, 5783 (Hakhel Year) 36th Sefirah / May 12, 2023


Shabbat we read the two final Parshiot of Leviticus (Vayikra); B'Har & B'Chukotei


Parshat B'Har begins with the mitzvah of letting fields rest during Shemita (Sabbatical year): "And G-d spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai saying: Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you come into the land which I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath unto the L-rd.Six years you shall sow your field and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its produce. But a Sabbath of solemn rest shall be in the seventh year."


In reply to the question, "What shall we eat the seventh year?" G-d promises, "I will command My blessings upon you in the sixth year and the earth will produce food for the three years." Thus, observing the Sabbatical year will in fact give a person more rather than less.


The number sevenis significant in Judaism. Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. The seventh yearis Shemitah.  After sevenShemitah years, there is the year of "Yovel" - "Jubilee". In preparation for receiving the Torah on Shavuot, which is in two weeks, we count Sefirah for seven weeks.  Indeed, our sages say, "The seventh is favored". Moshe, who was chosen to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the greatest of all the prophets, was the seventhgeneration from Abraham.


The patriarchs (Abraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov) and matriarchs (Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, Leah), the foundation of the Jewish people, total seven.


The reason for resting on the Sabbatical Year is not only for the field to have a rest, but for Jews to be able to devote that year to Torah study and spiritual elevation.


Another reason why the Torah prohibits work in the fields during the sabbatical year is to strengthen one's reliance (Betachon) in G-d.  During the other six years one may attribute their financial success to their own hard work.  By resting during the seventh year, we must rely completely on G-d. Thus, one's faith in G-d becomes stronger.


Also, through the Sabbatical year we can better appreciate the needs of the poor who don't have their own field and must continuously rely on the mercy and generosity of others. This leads the field owner to a better understanding of the importance of helping the needy.


The Parsha ends with the mitzvah of observing Shabbat.  "My Shabbat you shall keep... I am the L-rd."  Thus, the beginning of the Parsha (Shemitah) and the end of the Parsha (Shabbat) have something in common.  By observing the day of Shabbat, and the Sabbatical year, we receive G-d's continued blessings. Our sages say, "A person's livelihood is determined on Rosh Hashana for the entire year, except for the expenses for Shabbat, the holidays and the expenses for the children's Torah education.  The more one spends in honor of Shabbat and the holidays and to teach children Torah, the more G-d pays back in return."




Montreal candle lighting time: 7:56 / Shabbat ends: 9:09