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Parshas BeHar - The Meaning of Trust            18 Iyar 5782

05/19/2022 01:23:14 PM


This week’s Dvar Torah is dedicated by Ronnie and Susan Masliansky in memory of Ronnie’s father Mr. Joseph Masliansky, Yosef ben Aharon on his upcoming Yarzeit 22nd of Iyar

"In God We Trust" is the official motto of the United States. It was adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1956, replacing ‘E Pluribus Unum – ‘Out of Many, One’ -, which had been the de facto motto since the initial 1776 design of the Great Seal of the United States. The capitalized form "IN GOD WE TRUST" first appeared on the two-cent piece in 1864; it was not printed on some postal stamps until 1954 and did not appear on paper currency until 1957. Some would like to suggest it is because these words are printed on the U.S. currency that the American economy has thrived for over 100 years, and the reason why the U.S. dollar has been the benchmark for so long. However, all of that seems to be changing, and even a reference to the Ultimate Financier on any coins or paper bills does not seem to be enough to go against history, which raises nations to financial prominence for a time, and then lets them fall into a financial up and down pendulum or carousel.

In Israel today and in modern Hebrew, the word "בטחון" (Bitachon – trust) is used in several contexts. Shomrim or guards at checkpoints, entrances to communities, and entrances to major public venues typically wear jackets that have the word ‘Bitachon’ or ‘Security’ emblazoned on the back. We put our trust in things in which we feel secure.  If I have doubts about my security, then there is a lack of trust in proceeding and going forward. Often a false sense of security is assumed or given in a certain situation that can lead to devastating results. What is the basis of firm security in something, or better yet, how do we attain a great sense of security in the world?  The answer lies in how much trust someone has for another individual, a team, a structure or business, and so forth The more trust I build up in someone or something, the more secure I feel. This is an important lesson for a successful marriage. I would like to illustrate this by describing a personal feat that I have shown off only at very special occasions.

A guy whom I first met in ninth grade over time grew to become my best friend. We remained close throughout four years of high school, two years in Israel,  six and a half years as roommates while in yeshiva, plus an additional two and a half years when I was married. The name of my friend is, appropriately, Buddy.  My friendship with Buddy grew over the years, along with a trust that created a certain mutual security.  This security manifested itself in an act that most people would find uncomfortable, at least somewhat nervous, and unsure. The act required total trust and security as I performed a backwards free fall. I stood with my back to Buddy, lifted my arms, swung them round and round, and on the count of three - without looking back - would fall backwards, knowing that Buddy was there, prepared to catch me under my arms at the very moment my backside was within a fraction of an inch from the ground. After catching the full weight of my body, quickly dropping flat like a sack of potatoes, Buddy would then fling me back up onto my feet and we would repeat this a second time. This act required total trust that the ‘catcher’ would catch me and not let me crash onto the floor, possibly splitting my skull.  This was done as ‘shtick’ while dancing in front of a chosson and kallah at a wedding (including my own).

The stronger relationship I have with Hashem provides a far greater sense of security in Hashem. A few years ago, I wrote about my new-found hobby of gardening and the trust in God that is necessary. I must admit, in the worst scenario I could always buy tomatoes – after all, this is just a hobby, not my livelihood. But at the time I wrote that message, I did reference the challenge and, in a small way, also felt the pressure of how the agricultural Mitzvos of Eretz Yisrael must be so challenging. We are in the midst of a Shmittah year; many farmers in Eretz Yisroel are dealing with this very difficult mitzva of not sowing the land, allowing it to lie fallow. Every Mitzva is accompanied by some challenge, but the Mitzva of Shmittah is unique. It requires a hands-off approach and a great deal of Emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust). One may ask how and why is the observance of Shmittah being fulfilled more and more?

In this week’s Parshas Behar the Torah states in Vayikra 25:1,2 "וידבר ה' אל משה בהר סיני לאמר. דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אליהם כי תבואו אל הארץ אשר אני נותן לכם ושבתה הארץ שבת לה'"  “ :God spoke to Moshe at Mount Sinai, telling him to speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land must be given a rest period, a Sabbath to God’. The answer as to how farmers, how all Jews living in Israel have the strength to fulfill this mitzvah is found in the very first Rashi of the parsha. Rashi asks, ”What connection has the Sabbatical year to Mount Sinai? Were not all the commandments stated from Sinai”? Reb Zalman Sorotzkin z”l says there is a hint that coming into the land of Israel is dependent upon Har Sinai, where  the laws and statutes that the Jews accepted upon themselves took place. Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim 105:44,45 says: “And He gave them the lands of the nations, and the labor of the peoples they inherited so that they might preserve His statutes and treasure His laws, praise God”. The Chazone Ish, Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz zt”l, urged the farmers - even prior to the modern establishment of the State of Israel - to renew the observance of Shmittah according to the letter of the law and not rely on the different Heteirim (Halachik  [legal] permissibility). In his opinion, there is no permissibility to plow and seed the land of Israel during the Sabbatical year. A rabbi once asked the Chazone Ish, “Isn’t there a way to consider the land ‘ownerless’ and remove the obligation from the owners?” The Chazone Ish sternly answered, ”That may be true, but the Torah is not hefker and we do not treat the Torah with Hefkeirus/frivovously. It [the Torah] cannot be treated as if it has no value. The Chazon Ish’s point was that the Torah and the Land of Israel go hand in hand. It IS the fulfillment of the mitzvos that bring kedusha, sanctity, to the land.

If and when we invest in the Torah and perform the mitzvos as stated, then  the trust that Hashem will bless us according to each mitzva that is performed is firmly built. There is a correlation between the amount of trust we have in Hashem and the blessings that come as a result. Wishing bracha and hatzlacha to those farmers who are fulfilling the mitza of Shmittah and blessing to all those who assist the farmers of Eretz Yisrael to support them during their year sustaining of kedushas Haaretz, the holiness and sanctity of Eretz Yisrael.           

Sat, November 26 2022 2 Kislev 5783