In The Torah, we learn the laws of Shmittah, where we are commanded to let the land rest from all the hard work it has done in providing for us.
So we are told we should not plant, we should not harvest, nor should we prune during the sabbatical year.
Many of you might remember the story from earlier in the Torah where the Manna falls from the heavens and The Children of Israel are told to gather enough manna each day for that day only. But when Friday came along, they were told to gather a double portion. That extra portion was to be kept aside for the Sabbath and Israel was told that that portion would not rot … it would stay fresh and delicious.
Well, I don’t know about you, but if I had to depend on food magically falling from the sky, I would wonder — what if no food comes tomorrow? I had better consider gathering extra so that I will have in case nothing is delivered on the morrow. But somehow, the brunt of the people had the faith in G-d. Those who didn’t wound up finding that the extra food they had gathered had rotted away quickly.
In the Shmittah year, I know that I would be prone to ask the same question that we find in The Torah itself, “Should you ask, ‘What are we to eat in the 7th year, if we can’t sow or gather our crops.’”
And G-d responds, “I will put my blessing for you in the 6th year, so that it will produce enough for three years.” (Lev. 25:20-21)
How similar to the story of the Manna.
It even brings to mind the story of Joseph in Egypt when he knows there is a famine coming and advises Pharaoh to store enough grain and wheat so there is plenty of food during that time of need. In simple terms, he plans in advance.
I will soon be 61 years of age. I know to many of you that sounds like I am a young whippersnapper, but it just so happens that I am in the midst of planning for my future retirement. Fortunately, I have been putting aside an extra portion for years, building toward those Goldenah Yoren (Golden Years).
Many of you are already retired. Some of you are planning for that time … not just for a Sabbatical Year, but for years of retirement.
May we all be wise enough to gather those extra portions, to invest them wisely, to have enough to cover not just our basic needs, but enough to share special times with those we love whether it be in going to the theatre, to dine, to travel, to dance, or whatever trips your fancy.
That is my prayer for each of you today: may you have enough for all your needs, and don’t forget to gather an extra portion so that you can enjoy the rest of your years doing things you love to do, and may you have someone beside you who you love to share those joys with … and, while you are at it, why not save a little extra for those who were not as wise in gathering enough for themselves and their families.
Shalom my friends,
Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
Rabbi Ezring is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach (201 S. Military Tr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442). Regular Shabbat services are open to everyone on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11:30 a.m.