Simcha's Torah Stories - Behar / Bechukosai

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Parshas Behar / Bechukosai


Chaim, you're not going to believe this.

Believe what, Avi?

Believe what my teacher taught us today about the Shmitta year (Sabbatical year).

Is that the year where the farmer is forbidden to work the land?

Correct, Chaim. One every seven years the land is allowed to rest.

What's so unbelievable about that? Crop rotation is supposed to be a good thing.

My teacher quoted the great Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, the late head of the yeshiva in Mir, Poland.

What did he say?

Those who observed the Shmitta year were like heavenly angels. Their strength is unfathomable. How can it be that a person can achieve such great things from the mitzvah of Shmitta?

Let's think about this a minute, Avi. Let us try to imagine ourselves back in the days of the Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple).

And so, Chaim begins to tell a story.

Daddy, thank you so much for taking such good care of us. Thank G-d, we have a nice farm, and every day you go out and work the fields. You plow, plant, and tend to the crops. When they are grown, you pick them and bring them to Mommy to cook into the delicious meals that we eat. We are so fortunate that we have such a farm and that it is able to provide food for our family.

Children, do you know what next year is?

What, Daddy?

The Shmitta (sabbatical) year. Next year I take a big vacation. No plowing, planting, cultivating or working the land. We will see what will grow by itself. Even those crops not ours. They are hefker (ownerless) and free for anyone to take.

But Daddy, what will we have to eat next year? If you do not work the land, and anyone can take what grows by itself, we will have hardly any food.

Children, the Torah asks the exact same question in Vayikra, chapter 25, verse 20. The answer is that G-d will provide for us. This year He will give us enough food to last until after the Shmitta year.

And so it was Avi. There are no records of any famine ever occurring amongst the Jewish people in Biblical times as a result of keeping the Shmitta year. In the times of the Beis HaMikdash, farming was the main occupation of the Jewish people. Without the crops of the farm, there would be literally no food to eat. Observing the Shmitta was therefore a very big test of one's trust in Hashem. That is why Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says that those who observe Shmitta are compared to heavenly angels who have no desire to go against G-d's will. That is the strength of their trust in Him.

Simcha's Quiz

Two boys on bicycles, 20 miles apart, began racing toward each other. The instant they started a fly on the handle bar of one of the bikes started flying toward the handle bar of the other bike. As soon as it reached, it turned around and went to the other bike and so on until the bikes met. If each bike had a constant speed of 10 mph, and the fly was traveling 15 mph constantly, how far did the fly travel?

Write Simcha with the correct answer to

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