BeHar and Bitachon by Alex Kalb


Parashat BeHar begins with the Mitzvot of Shemitah and Yovel, following which the Pasuk states, “VeChi Tomeru Mah Nochal BaShanah HaShevi’it, Hein Lo Nizra VeLo Ne’esof Et Tevu’ateinu,” “And if you will say: 'What shall we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we may not sow, nor gather in our increase’” (VaYikra 25:20). In response to this, the Torah states that there is a special promise from Hashem that during the Shemitah year, Hashem will provide for all of us. Based on this, the Sefer HaChinuch writes that the Mitzvah of Shemitah can teach us numerous lessons: The first is that there is a God and He created the world; just like there were six days of creation and on the 7th day Hashem rested, so too, there are six years of working the field, and during the seventh year we rest. By resting our fields once every seven years, we commemorate Hashem’s creating the world and acknowledge His continued control over it. Next, the Mitzvah of Shemitah teaches us the importance of being a generous person. This lesson is derived from the Halachah that a person must be generous when it comes to Shemitah and share his crops with other Jews, even if he may be a naturally stingy person. Finally, the Mitzvah of Shemitah teaches us the Middah of Bitachon. During the Shemitah year, one needs a tremendous amount of trust in Hashem, because one must depend financially on Hashem and is unable to actively plant and support one’s family.

With this idea, we can understand Rashi’s comment on this Parashah (VaYikra 25:18 s.v. ViShavtem Al HaAretz LaVetach), which states that Bnei Yisrael’s failure to properly observe the Mitzvah of Shemitah led to their exile from Eretz Yisrael. Since Eretz Yisrael is a land that requires our Bitachon in Hashem, our violations of the Halachot of Shemitah – which demonstrates our lack of Bitachon in Hashem – causes us to lose our right to live in Eretz Yisrael.

This past week, we celebrated Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of Sefirat HaOmer. This day marks the Yahrtzeit of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai and concludes our period of mourning over the death of Rabi Akiva’s Talmidim. Both Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabi Akiva had extreme Bitachon in Hashem. The Gemara (Shabbat 33b-34a) relates that Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai was forced to live in a cave for thirteen years with little food because he criticized the Roman government. Living in near solitude with nothing but Torah and faith in Hashem is a tremendous demonstration of Bitachon. Rabi Akiva also demonstrated tremendous Bitachon in Hashem, because even after his 24,000 students died, he rebuilt his life and found five new Talmidim through whom to pass on his Torah. Although he could have given up in his life mission to spread Torah, Rabi Akiva continued to have faith in Hashem and spread His Torah.

How can we, those who just celebrated Lab BaOmer, try to enhance our Bitachon in Hashem? The Chazon Ish explains that Bitachon does not necessarily mean that we believe that everything is good and every outcome is going to turn out for the best; rather, what it means is that whatever Hashem wants to happen to us is going to happen. Every detail of our lives is masterfully planned and what happens to us is ultimately in Hashem’s hands.

Sometimes, when things are so good, when things go as they should, we don't stop to recognize that Hashem is showering us with the good things in life. However, when things begin to become more challenging and difficult in life, then we start asking why Hashem would let such horrible things happen in our lives. We should  recognize that Hashem is holding our hands and guiding us through every single step of the way. We do not request Nisyonot (challenges) from Hashem, we Daven every single day that Hashem not present us with Nisyonot, but if we look to great people like Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabi Akiva – who understood the meaning of the challenges in their lives and realized that they were tests from Hashem – we will hopefully gain a special appreciation for all the positive that Hashem bestows upon us. If we do so, then we will be Zocheh to have the tremendous good feeling of being carried by Hashem throughout our lives.

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