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This article was originally published in 2017.
Everything that occurs is by the grace of God. Nothing but nothing happens without the hand of the Creator.
This week two portions, Behar and Bechukotai, are combined. Both independently discuss the spiritual precept of shemitah, the sabbatical year which takes place in Israel and is the seventh year of a seven year agricultural cycle. Just as people rest from the toils of the work week on the seventh day, the land of Israel is also asked to disconnect from the world of Malchut for the seventh year and not be worked. It is also fascinating to note that the shemitah was the only precept given on Mount Sinai. Why is it so important that for the whole of the seventh year, Israel does not work the land? What is so crucial about the sabbatical? Most importantly, what is the lesson for us as it pertains to our lives today?
"The sabbatical is all about building a complete and total trust in the Light of the Creator."
The Zohar reveals that the sabbatical is all about building certainty – a complete and total trust in the Light of the Creator. It is as though the Creator were saying, “Do not work the land in the 7th year, and I shall provide you blessings for all the years.” Are we meant to give up work entirely for a year, and merely trust that the universe will provide? No, this is not the case at all. The Bible is so beautifully precise in its poetry. Notice how it does not claim we are not to work, but rather that the land is not to be worked. This is an indication to us that what is truly being discussed is a reprieve from the world of physicality.
It is so easy to get caught up in the physical world. After all, it is where we live. It is where we work, toil, and engage in the blood, sweat, and tears of striving to manifest for ourselves and others. We are meant to do all these things, and yet there must also be a consciousness that sustenance and blessings do not come by our hand alone, as the Creator’s hand is involved at least in equal measure. For example, a person could sign up for every dating web site in the world. They could go out on 7 dates a week! Still, they will not find their soulmate until the Creator deems it so. As important as it is to put in the effort, it is of equal importance that we learn to let go and let God.
"Whatever will be, know that God is in it."
This is an intense spiritual work. To live in the world of physicality, to strive with all our heart and soul for our goals, and yet to not be attached to the outcome, having certainty that the Light prevails. It’s quite a paradox, but as Rav Berg often said: The truth is in the paradox.
The energy of this week is one that can help us to let go of our agendas, our fixed ideas of what outcomes should be, of where we are headed and why. For the next seven days, practice the art of letting go. Whatever will be, know that God is in it.
This doesn’t mean we should stop striving to be our best, to do our best, and to meet our goals. It just means we should also remember, our dreams are so small compared to all that which the Creator wants to bless us. Sometimes all we need to experience that bounty of Light is simply to surrender to it.
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