Saturday, May 08, 2010

Guaranteed By G-D Himself!

Yes, I'm reusing that photo yet again. Sorry, but it is SO perfect for this week's Parsha which says:

25:18. You shall perform My decrees, and observe My ordinances and perform them; and you shall dwell securely on the land.

25:19. The land will give its fruit and you will eat to satisfaction; and you will dwell securely upon it.

Rabbi Frand points out that a number of commentators are bothered by the redundant language of dwelling securely. Rashi explains the first “securely” to be referring to national security. The Jewish people won’t have to worry about being expelled from the land by our enemies. Rashi explains the second “securely” to be referring to economic security – literally having food to put on the table.

The Chassam Sofer takes a different approach, explains Rav Frand. He understands that having enough food was the first and foremost concern of anyone that stopped planting crops, especially in an age before modern day importing and exporting. If you didn’t plant, you didn’t eat. Therefore the Chassam Sofer says the first “securely” refers to economic security reassuring the Jewish people that we will have plenty to eat as the next few following verses explain.

So how then does the Chassam Sofer explain the second instance of “securely?” He takes a novel approach and explains that one of the greatest tests for the wealthy is to understand that their wealth does not come from their own two hands, but comes only from Heaven. It is extremely easy to fall into the trap of believe we are rich because we are so good at making investments or studying at the best schools or because we work long hours. In reality, while we still must do our hishtadlus every penny we earn is decreed by Hashem.

When we stop working for a year and still have food to eat it becomes obvious to us that everything we earn is Heaven’s doing and not our own. Therefore we will dwell securely from the trap of thinking "my might and the power of my hand made me this great wealth." (Devorim 8:17)

Perhaps we can take this beautiful idea one step further. It is well known that one of the greatest perceived obstacles to making Aliyah is making a living. “I’d love to make Aliyah, but I’d have no real way to make a parnussah in Israel” is a common excuse. But if we listen to what to Chassam Sofer says its reverse fits beautifully. When we keep shmitta not only will we understand that our sustenance comes from Above, but if we don’t understand that it is Hashem and only Hashem giving us wealth and think we are doing it on our own – then we won’t be able to live in Eretz Yisrael!

If you ask “how am I going to make money in Israel?” The answer is simple: you won’t! But this only becomes a problem when you are in the mindset of you yourself being the one making the money. Once you realize even in America, it is Hashem making the money you will come to realize “parnussa” is actually not an obstacle at all to making Aliyah. Indeed it is very common to hear people in Israel say how much more clearly visible Yad Hashem is here. It’s common to hear amazing “miracle” stories about how people found their jobs here. Of course we are not allowed to rely on miracles and have to do our best. But we still have to remember who is running the show and the Torah is telling us, if we do keep Shmitta then we will remember Hashem provides support and only then will we not fear making Aliyah and living in Eretz Yisrael.

Crossposted on Kumah