This week’s Torah portion contains the mitzvah of Shemittah or the obligation for farmers not to work their field every seven years. It is in the seventh year that these farmers are not only completely dependent on GOD to have crops for the coming year but no matter what the farmers status is rich or poor get put they all are on the same playing field of not working the land for that year. Perhaps the fact that mitzvah of Shemittah equalizes all farmers teaches us that in the end of the day we all aren’t so different after all.
A Rabbi of mine based off the Hassidic Rabbi the Shem Meshmuel pointed out that Shemmitah is a commandment for the Jewish people as a whole as opposed to a commandment for each individual. He added that it is a paradigm example of the Rambam (Maimonides’s) interpretation of the commadnment of loving your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) that you literally love someone else as if they are you personally.
This past week we marked Yom Hazikaron, Israeli memorial day a day were we remember all those who died sanctifying GOD’s name so we can have a Jewish homeland. There are many stories of such people who took the biggest risks many times costing them their lives because they fought to defend the lives of their loved ones as if they were defending themselves.
We however, don’t necessarily need to go to as an extreme of actually physically giving up our lives to literally love someone else as ourselves. Thank GOD everyone is blessed with many opportunities to give to others big and small very regularly. Whether it be taking time out to help out a friend when they are in a bad mood or taking out our time to help our friends with a project they are working on we too can give of ourselves to those around us like the soldiers we commemorated this past Yom Hazikaron.
May we merit being givers and not takers.
Shabbat Shalom- Gidon Herschander