Seeking the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“קרבה שנת השבע שנת השמיטה… נתן תתן לו ולא ירע לבבך בתתך לו”
“…On the contrary, instill in our hearts that each one of us should see the virtue of our fellowman and not their flaws…” (Prayer of R. Elimelech of Lizansk)
One of the important messages of Hebron that we have mentioned time and time again is the unity of our People, realizing that we are all brothers from the same parents. When one realizes that his fellowman is ultimately the same as his own flesh, he almost automatically sees primarily the virtues of the other and not his flaws.
This message is one of the messages delivered to us in this week’s parsha when the Torah commands us not harden our hearts in giving charity or lending money to our fellow Jew, ‘for a pauper shall not cease from the earth’.
Our Sages explain this phrase saying that poverty is like a revolving wheel in the world, sometimes affecting one and sometimes affecting the other, regardless of their human efforts. Therefore, we should have compassion on the poor, and not blame them for their poverty, especially knowing that poverty could even strike ourselves, God forbid. This conceptualization is not only taken in theory, but the Torah asks us to act on this ideal.
The Torah commands us to lend money to the poor and allow this loan to be absolved at the end of Shmita year, without fretting before or avoiding this loan because of this absolvement. Rather, we are asked to have trust in HaShem that He will bless us for our support of the needy.
Although this is the ideal, Hillel saw in his generation that people stopped giving loans in fear that they would be absolved in Shmita, and therefore he enacted Prozbul, a document that states that the lender hands over all his loans over to the Jewish court (beit din) and as such they are no longer private loans which Shmita absolves, but rather public loans (of beit din) that Shmita does not absolve. This halachic ‘invention’ applies only when Shmita is of Rabbinic level, as it is today when the majority of Israel has still not settled in the Land, and when Israel has still not been divided into tribal territories.
We should also mention that the absolvement of loans at the end of Shmita applies even in the Diaspora, although the condition of it applying on a Biblical level in the Diaspora is the existence of Shmita of the Land, which, of course, is unique to the Land of Israel and applies Biblically only when the majority of Israel has settled in the Land etc. As Shmita approaches this is the time to prepare ourselves for this holy year.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #84:
“One evening, one of my household electric fans stopped working. I tried connecting it to different (operating) sockets, but to no avail, so my wife asked me to bring the fan to the store I had bought it, try to print out the receipt again, and make the case to return the fan. On the way to the store (with the fan) I went to Maariv and davened that HaShem fix the fan. Just after, I tried the fan in the synagogue, and lo and behold – it worked! The next evening however the fan stopped working again. This time I sung ‘shir hammalot’ out loud that HaShem fix it, and just then it worked, and continues to work!” (M.A.I)
Sources: Rambam Shmita 10, 16