Shmittah Conundrum (Pt. 1)

There’s a fascinating pasuk that talks about Shmittah.

ואכלתם לשבע, וישבתם לבטח עליה. וכי תאמרו מה נאכל בשנה השביעית, … וצויתי את ברכתי לכם בשנה השש’ת ועשת את התבואה לשלש השנים. (Vayikra 25: 19, 21)

“You shall eat and be satisfied, and will live securely in the land. If you will ask, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year?’… I shall command My blessing in the sixth year and the grain will provide for three years.”

After the Torah has already concluded discussing the laws of Shmittah, it tells us that we will have plentiful food, and then it goes back to discussing what we will have in the seventh year. Why is the Torah going back now?

The bigger question is. When would someone ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year?” During the first years of the cycle they have food, and they’re not worried yet about Shmittah. In the sixth year, he sees the triple crop, and in the seventh he has it to eat! So when is he worried?

The answer must be that in the very first year of the Shmittah cycle people are already concerned what will be in seven years! The nature of a person is to begin worrying immediately once a possibility of difficulty enters his mind, even if the threat is in the distant future.

As it says in Mishlei (13:25), “The stomach of a rasha is lacking.” This is not because he doesn;t have what to eat. He puts away what he has today because he’s always worried that he might not have in the future.

Already in the first year that the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael, after they planted and harvested, some began to worry about the Shmittah year, They saw that they had food now, but they were worried that the bracha for the sixth year may not happen, while they knew they must keep Shmittah.So for six years they worried and put away food.

To be continued.

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