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Parsha Behar

05/23/2019 07:09:04 PM


The dominating topic of Parshas Behar is Shemita, the law that maRashi explains that even meager portions will disproportionately satiate a person, implying that there would be no need for extra grain.  The commentators are left puzzled as to whether there would be a miraculous supply of grain in the sixth year or there would be a miraculous blessing in the grain which would require smaller rations. 


The Malbim suggests that the promise of profusion in the sixth year's crop is a response to the question of "what will we eat," and therefore only pertains to those who questioned God's mitzva.  For those who believed completely in God and did not doubt that he would somehow provide for them, the miracle was that they were satiated on smaller amounts.  The explicit and tangible miracle is necessary and appropriate to negate a doubt in the word of God, whereas the subtle and concealed miracle is commensurate for implicit trust in God.  This concept is famously quoted in the name of the Ba'al Shem Tov as an explanation for the Pasuk "Hashem Tzilcha"- God shadows you.  Although shadowing is simply understood to be a synonym for protection, the Besht suggests that a shadow reciprocates its image, and the Pasuk means to convey that just as when you stick out a finger your shadow sticks a finger back, so too God responds to us in reciprocate form of the way we approach him.  The special miracle of having remarkable satiation from the grain was therefore reserved only for those who "stuck out their finger" and did not question.


The Kli Yakar suggests a different and novel answer.  He proposes that the Torah does not say explicitly that there would be three times the amount of grain in the sixth year, but rather that the grain would produce enough for three years.  The reason that the grain was ample supply for three years was because of the miracle of abnormal satiation from smaller rations, and not because there was more grain.  The Torah's phrase of "and you will eat in satiation" is understood as an explanation of the promise that the grain would produce for three years.  According to the Kli Yakar, it follows that one who questioned was not given an empirical and immediate miraculous response, and it was only when one began eating the sixth year's crop that the miracle and relief was felt.


Although the Malbim and Kli Yakar dispute the meaning of the Pasuk, the values behind their explanations are not contradictory, and, in reality, are reflective of different contexts and ideas throughout life.  There are times and situations which do not warrant any worry or doubt, times when implicit trust is a virtue, and God's reciprocate response is one of concealed control and management.  There are times that warrant a doubt and merit a certain amount of uncertainty, and yet the answer may still be somewhat clandestine and mystifying.  There may also be circumstances that warrant some hesitation to which God may decide to respond to with obvious and lucid action.  The lines of bitachon and hishtadlus are very personal and ambiguous, and it is ultimately balance that dictates how to act.  There is no "one size fits all" for issues of belief, and the way one approaches God and how God responds to him is a very personal issue that cannot be compared and contrasted necessarily.


The underlying theme here is that our relationship with God is very much defined by the way we connect and relate to him.  Although we instinctively think of being entitled to the grace of God, the truth is that God will be whatever we perceive of him.  If we only think of God when bad happens, than our entire association of God is an omnipotent force who wreaks havoc on our lives and the entire benevolent nature of God is lost on us.  Only if we see God in every phase and context of life, a proactive force behind everything that occurs, can we get the full picture of what we are dealing with.  I think most of the world looks at God as some type of Umpire in the game of life.  A good umpire is an umpire you never notice; he lets the game roll smoothly, making correct calls that enhance the seriousness and enjoyment of the game.  Noticing the umpire is indicative of a mistake, a bad call which disrupts the flow of the game.  It is easier to draw this analogy for God, thinking he is just watching us play and occasionally making a bad call that disrupts our lives.  The truth we know of, the “Hashem Tzilcha” idea, brings us to realize that the ball is in our court, and we are the ones who control the depth of the relationship and allow God to take root and meaning in the way we live our lives.   ndates abstaining from working the land every seventh year.  Relating to the human nature of the farmers, the Torah raises the issue of "And if you shall ask, what will we eat in the seventh year," and promises a miraculous declaration that the land will produce an abundance of grain in the sixth year, and this profusion will last until the new crops are harvested in the eighth year.  However, the Pasuk before mentions that "you will eat to satiation," and 


Wed, June 7 2023 18 Sivan 5783