בס”ד

לשכנו תדרשו

Calling for the Shechina in Our Holy Land

“ובשנה השביעית שבת שבתון יהיה לארץ שבת לה’… וקדשתם את שנת החמשים שנה וקראתם דרור בארץ לכל יושביה” (ויקרא, כה, ד, י)

“The One Who has done miracles to our fathers and redeemed them from bondage to freedom, may He redeem us soon, and ingather our exiles from the four corners of the Earth, as friends all of Israel, and we shall say Amen” – this blessing, linking the ingathering of exiles to redemption from bondage, echoes throughout all synagogues of the world before every new month. Indeed, a primary theme of our week’s parsha is redemption from bondage, whether literally in the form of slavery, or figuratively in the form of financial or spiritual bondage. Just as Shabbat alleviates us from human work that “enslaves” us throughout the week from awareness to God’s Presence in general, so too the Shemita year – the “Shabbat of the Land” – emancipates us from work in regard to the Land, allowing us to connect to the Holy Presence in the Land – “a Shabbat for HaShem” (in our title quote). Last week, in regard to the Omer Count, we explained some of the deeper meanings regarding the number 7, representing the natural world, and the number 50, representing the supernatural. Similarly, these numbers reappear in this week’s parsha in additional contexts, such as the 7-year Shemita cycle, 50 years for the Jubilee cycle, and 50 silver pieces for the “redemption” of land, which is also dependent on the Jubilee year. In a parallel sense, the 7th-Shemitah-year represents acknowledgement of God’s Presence in a natural  way, a way that many, even outside Judaism, can relate to on a natural level as giving time for the Land to rest from agriculture (even though the real meaning of Shemita is of course much deeper). However, the 50th-Jubilee year is really not understandable on a natural level. Why should a proper sale of land be suddenly abdicated on the Jubilee year in favor of the previous owner? Why should a Torah-ordained Hebrew servant be suddenly rendered free on Jubilee year? Rather, these laws and other laws of the Jubilee year are not comprehensible unless we take into consideration God’s supernatural Mastery of the Cosmos – “And the Land shall not be sold forever, for the Land belongs to Me, for you are strangers and [temporary] residents with Me” (Lev. 25, 23). Therefore, human mastery over servants is obliterated, and land is brought back solely to the owner who received the land without human intervention, such as inheritance (ordained by God in Num.  27, 6-11). Both of these natural and supernatural levels of holiness, the Shemitah year and Jubilee year, are dependent on the majority of our People living the Land of Israel (exact versions of Rambam Shmita V’Yovel 10, 9). When our People live as a whole in our Holy Land and revive the power of the Holy Presence therein, it is more understandable how the Torah requires the masses such high standards of faith to believe that indeed: “I will command my blessing on the sixth year (before Shmita) and it (the Land) shall make produce for the three years” (Lev. 25, 21). On the opposite side of the spectrum, it is specifically the lack of faith that the Torah ties to the lengthening of exile from the Land, as we learn in the curses in this week’s parsha and their explanation by our Sages (Sifra on Lev. 26, 27: “If you do not listen to Me, and regard my ways of judgment as temporary (coming by chance), then I will make you temporary in the world” (i.e through exile, etc. God forbid). Our parsha teaches us that Redemption and the end of these curses comes with the remembrance of four elements, the three Forefathers (with the Matriarchs (Sifra)) and our Holy Land, by HaShem (Lev. 26, 42). It is Hebron, as “City of the Patriarchs” in the Holy Land, which in essence incorporates all four elements into one whole. When we connect to Hebron, we connect to these four elements corresponding to the four letters of HaShem’s Name (Avraham – yod, Yitzhak –heh, Yakov-vav, Land-heh – see Zohar 2, 53a), opening our hearts to the four primary letters/ways of God, thus channeling into the ways of contemplating HaShem’s Mastery, the ways of faith, the ways of “remembrance” before HaShem, the ways of Redemption.

Real Stories from the Holy Land #16: “I have a Sefer Torah which I hadn’t opened for a number of years. One day I had a sudden urge to open the sefer Torah (not knowing where it was rolled to). The scroll “happened” to open up on the same parsha of that week.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *