It’s Hashem’s World; We Just Live in It by Eli Englard


A major theme that runs through Parashat BeHar is the need to realize that the world in which we live is ruled by Hashem, not by us. This theme is expressed through two Mitzvot that appear in the Parashah: the prohibitions of charging interest on loans to another Jew and working the land during the Shemittah year.

One Mitzvah that appears in Parashat BeHar is the ban on charging interest on money that one Jew lends to another (VaYikra 25:37). The core idea behind this Mitzvah is that all money that we possess truly belongs, not to us, but to Hashem — and if the money we lend is not truly ours, who are we to charge interest upon it? Moreover, by accepting this Mitzvah, we acknowledge that only Hashem can tell people what to do with their money; we cannot. This affirms that it is Hashem’s world, and we just live in it.

The second Mitzvah in this week's Parashah that shows that Hashem is in charge of the world is Shemittah. At the beginning of the Parashah, we are commanded that once every seven years in the land of Israel, we should not plant or harvest produce in our fields (25:4). By acquiescing to this command of Hashem, we assert that the land belongs only to Him and that He is free to tell us when to work and when not to work at His will.


Sometimes, people let their egos and desire for material goods take over their lives. But by saying that everything belongs to Hashem through the Mitzvot of interest and Shemittah, we let go of these material possessions and depend completely on Hashem, which is the ultimate act of Emunah and humility. When we take these Mitzvot to heart, we will finally understand the true meaning of Emunah and will bolster our connection to Hashem.

When Moshe asked God, “Is this Torah and this its reward”, he was talking to the wrong entity. The aggadah’s message teaches us that Moshe should have asked R. Akiva, whose assessment of the meaning of his life and his death was where a life’s meaning really lay.

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