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Behar-Bechukosi Know where you’re going in life … you may already be there!

Know where you’re going in life … you may already be there!

The weekly Torah portion (Parshah) Behar begins with the laws of Shmitta [the Sabbatical year]. Observance of the Shmitta year required the farmers not to work the land every seventh year.

The Torah anticipates a difficulty for some Shmitta-observers: “And if you will say: What will we eat in the seventh year? Behold! We will not sow and we will not gather our crop! I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year and it will yield a crop sufficient for the three years.” [Leviticus – Vayikra 25:20-21].

The question in itself seems to indicate a lack of faith and has an obvious answer! The Mitzvah of leaving the land fallow every seventh year, indicates that a food supply would be available to sustain the nation during that time frame. Nonetheless, the Torah responds that the sixth year’s crop will provide an overwhelming abundance in order to support the people during the sixth, seventh and eighth years.

Now the questioner who worried about the food supply he normally had a sufficient supply, not only demonstrates his lack of faith but also his inability to count his blessings and be satisfied with his lot .He will suffer for three years notwithstanding the bumper crop in the sixth year that yielded a crop sufficient for the three years! For him the sixth year will be hard work having to harvest and stock the crop of three years in the year when his field will have produced excessive amounts: this  requires extra hard work – to reap more, to thresh more and to grind more. Moreover, the seventh year will still be a year of worrying –after all he is not working the land and something might go wrong with the stored provisions and the eighth year will probably the hardest for him –having to rely on crop from the sixth year!

What happens when a person does not question whether  sufficient food will be available for the seventh year! He would be provided for and would survive the three years of Shmitta without the worry and hardship suffered by the man who worries about the food supply!

The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman illustrates this point:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the Mexican. “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs … I have a full life.” The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. “And after that?” asked the Mexican. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move toMexico City,Los Angeles, or evenNew York City!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.” “How long would that take?” asked the Mexican? “Twenty, perhaps 25 years,” replied the American. “And after that?” the Mexican asked. “Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing.  “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!” “Millions? Really? And after that?” “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

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