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Ma Inyan Shmita Etzel Yom Yerushalayim?

By: Rav Uri Goldstein

The Torah is sensitive to the fact that in an agrarian society, the Mitzvah of Shmita, which requires us to allow our fields to remain fallow for seven years could lead to a great deal of anxiety:  ֣ ֔ ֤֖ ֣ ֑ ֚ ֣ ֔ ֥ ֖  And should you ask, “What are we to eat in the seventh year, if we may neither sow nor gather in our crops?”  To this question, Hashem replies:  ֤ ֙ ֔ ֖ ֑ ֙ ֔ ֖  I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it shall yield a crop sufficient for three years.  The simple meaning of this response is that Hashem will miraculously cause the earth to produce an abundance of crops in the sixth year, so that there will be sufficient food for three years: The sixth, in which the produce of that year is eaten, the seventh, which is the Shmita year, and the eighth, when there will be a need for food between the time that the new seeds are planted in autumn and when they actually ripen in the spring.  Sefat Emet adds another dimension: The word “bracha-blessing” implies that the abundant growth of the crops will not be overtly miraculous, but will take place through seemingly natural means. The challenge is to maintain the correct perspective on nature itself:

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In truth, Bnei Yisrael must know that miracles and nature are all one, and there is no greater miracle and wonder than nature-the greatest wonder that we can attain.  True emunah is not to dismiss the ordinary and natural phenomena-it is to perceive the G-dliness within them.  This week we will celebrate 50 years since the Six Day War and the unification of Yerushalayim. For us-as religious Jews- this was not just a step in the realization of hopes and dreams-of return to the Har Habayit, and other holy sites-it was seen as a component of the Geulah-the redemption of the Jewish people. But how do we experience redemption when there is no Beit Hamikdash, no Kingdom of David-when life in our Holy City seems so ordinary?  The answer is given by the Navi Zechariah:

֚ ֣ ֔ ֚ ֔ ֖ ֣ ֑ ֤ ֙֙ ֣֔ ֥ ֖ ֥

Thus said the LORD: I have returned to Zion, and I will dwell in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the City of Faithfulness, and the mount of the LORD of Hosts the Holy Mount.  ֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֖ ֑ ֧ ֛ ֖ ֥  Thus said the LORD of Hosts: There shall yet be old men and women in the squares of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age.  ֤ ֙ ֣֔ ֖ ֑ ֖  And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares.  How will we know that Hashem has returned to Zion? When will Jerusalem be “Ir HaEemet” and “Har HaKodesh”? When we see old people sitting to rest in the streets while small children run and play. When Yerushalayim is a city in which normal life prevails, we will know it is a redeemed city.  Our emunah allows us to see the miraculous facet of nature- both in the crops that Hashem has given us in the Shemita year, and in the day to day life of modern Yerushalayim.




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