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Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - 13 Av 5782
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Awareness of Redemption
Once in seven years we are obligated to keep the shmittah year—to let the land lay fallow. “When you will come to the land I will give you, you shall let the land rest, a Shabbat to the L-rd” (Vayikra 25:2).

The way this mitzvah is observed is after six years of work, there is one year of rest, as is written in the verse immediately following; “For six years you shall sow your fields and six years you shall prune your vineyards and gather your crops, and in the seventh year shall be a sabbatical year to the land.” If so, why does the Torah write, “When you come to the land… you shall let the land rest”—which gives the impression that even before starting to work, there is a sabbatical year?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the Torah is alluding to the state that will exist in the time of Redemption. Then, “The land of Israel will produce fresh rolls and silken outfits.” Freshly baked goods and ready-made clothing will sprout from the earth miraculously, without any toil. Therefore, when we will arrive at the land in the time of Moshiach, we will not need to work the earth. We will immediately be able to fulfil the verse, “And you shall let the earth rest, a Shabbat to the L-rd.”

An additional explanation: It’s true that at first they worked six years and only then rested. But the rest is the main thing. The sabbatical year reinforced our faith that our livelihood is really thanks to G-d’s providence and not to our own efforts. They also used this time for prayer and Torah study, which added holiness to this world—the ultimate purpose of our labor. Therefore the Torah begins with a discussion of the sabbatical year, because before starting our work we need to have in mind our end goal. We are working the land only as a means to fulfill G-d’s desire on earth.

This is another connection of the mitzvah of shmittah and Redemption: As is known, the six years of work and the year of rest correspond to the seven millennia that the world will exist. Six millennia of toil to prepare the world for Redemption, and the seventh millennium, which is the time of Moshiach, holy to the L-rd. This is the purpose which must be before our eyes at all times. From the moment we enter this world we are preparing to “enter the land,” in the time of Moshiach.

References: Likutei Torah Behar 39:3. Sefer Hamitzvot of the Tzemach Tzedek, 167:1. Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 30b. Rosh Hashana 31a. Hitvaaduyot 5750 vol. 3, p. 212. 5746 vol. 3, p. 283. 5747 vol. 3, p. 279.


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