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The Crown of Halacha

B’chukosai 5776 – A Homeless Situation


A Homeless Situation

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

Rashi  links the seventy years  of Babylonian Exile directly 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 besides shmitta.  Until now, we understood that if we do not follow the mitzvoth, the land will not produce and we will  either starve or be forced to 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?

For the sin of acting as though we are the masters of the land, we lose all claims to ownership; we are in fact kicked off the very property we so arrogantly did with as we saw fit. At this point, Hashem exiles us in order that we do not “steal” from Him.

By letting the land lie fallow throughout the seventh year we demonstrate our understanding that we do not own the land.

Being in exile underscores the fact that we do not own anything. 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.

It is very easy for us to “forget” that we do not really own anything and that we must use whatever gifts we have been given in the way Hashem instructed us to.  By keeping the laws of shmitta we are declaring our total reliance on Hashem. When we realize that He owns everything and we put ourselves in His hands, we are always right at home.


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