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The Crown of Halacha

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Vayikra 5777

B’har – B-chukosai 5777 – The Wandering Jew

“As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Shmittotwhen you dwelt upon it (referring to the years of shmitta).”  Vayikra 26:35

We Were Exiled From Home

Rashi directly links the seventy years of Babylonian Exile to the seventy years of shmitta and yoval that we did not keep. This was the divine retribution.

Galus (exile) is a unique punishment that is not associated directly with any mitzvah other than shmitta.  Until now, we understood that if we do not follow the mitzvoth, the land will not produce fruits. We will be forced to either starve or leave. But in the case of transgressing the laws of shmitta, we are sent into galus even if there is plenty of food in the land.  What lesson can be learned from the ultimate punishment of galus?

Exile is Humbling

The answer is that because it is human nature to think we are going to live forever, Hashem gives us mitzvot to protect us from misusing our lives. Chazal warns us over and over that there will come a time when we have to make an accounting for the days we spent in this world.

Furthermore, Hashem made us dependent on Him in order that we should remember that we are not “calling the shots”. Hashem created us even weaker than animals and we are easily defeated by ravenous predators. In galus, those ravenous predators come in many forms.

Not All Those Who Wander are Lost

But what humbles us most is that we must struggle for parnassa. Man must rely on Hashem for everything; food, shelter, and clothing. Letting the land lie fallow throughout the seventh year shows that we know we are not its owner. We do not have permission to plow, sow or harvest during this time. This is Hashem’s land. Therefore, by ignoring the commandment of shmitta, we are in essence saying “This land is mine and I will do what I want with it.” At this point, Hashem must exile us in order that we do not “steal” from Him. We wander, but we are not lost.

Soon We Will Wander No More

Being in exile underlines the point that we do not own anything.How many times have we seen that the Jews rise to the top only to fall out of grace a generation or two later! We wander from country to country leaving everything behind, again and again. While in galus we are grateful just to be alive and we turn more readily to Hashem for our needs. He hears our cries and will soon redeem us.


The Road Home

Everyone has his own personal galus. Everyone “forgets” that he doesn’t really own anything and must use whatever blessing he has been given in the way Hashem instructed him to.  By keeping the laws of shmitta we are declaring our total reliance on Hashem. When we fully internalize that He owns everything and we put ourselves in His hands then our wandering will come to an end. In this sense, we are always on the road that leads to home.


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