Torah Portion

Let Go and Know that I am Hashem

If we will take to heart this possibility and be open to it, we can expect to see, again and again, in an endless amount of situations how things happen without our direct involvement.

We just let go, released our hands from too much control, and stopped our involvement, and all the rest Hashem did for our best.

shmitta

Rav Yisrael Asulin

Translated by Moshe Neveloff

Monday, 8th of Iyar, 5776

BS”D

Amongst the 613 mitzvahs, which obligate each person to control his actions, to try to go in the right direction, and to choose correctly in every moment; there is one mitzvah, which seemingly says the complete opposite- to sit and not to act is preferable.  Sit quietly, take a rest.  Don’t be in control.  Be in the sabbatical year, a year complete rest.

“Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath rest for Hashem.  For six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard; and you may gather in its crop.  But the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem; you field you shall not sow and your vineyard you shall not prune.  The after growth of your harvest you shall not reap and the grapes you had set aside for yourself you shall not pick; it shall be a year of rest for the land.”  (Leviticus, 25:1-5)

In the framework of the mitzvah of shmitah[1] each Jew who lives in the Land of Israel is commanded during the seventh year to stop any type of work in the field for a complete year and to abandon its produce.

Yes, it’s true, you are commanded to work for your living to support your family.  It’s true that you turn your eyes to this produce and for six years in a row you work hard for it.  And it’s true that naturally, without your efforts there would be destruction and loss and desolation.  It’s true, but nevertheless you need to sit.  Take a rest, breathe, observe the year of shmitah.  Rest from your effort, your action, and your control.  A sabbatical year for the land, a sabbatical for Hashem.

For the land owners amongst us a year like this has great significance and it requires submission and sacrifice and devotion.  However, to many other people the sabbatical year doesn’t affect us so much.  We of course guard the holiness of the fruits of the seventh year, buy only produce grown by non-Jews or what is sold by the rabbinical court, each one according to his custom, but we don’t stop ploughing and pruning, and we also don’t have to abandon our fields.

So what does this mean?  Is this mitzvah limited only to the small amount of farmers amongst us?  Did the sweeping movement of urbanization wipe out away for most Jews an entire mitzvah from the Torah?

Beyond the practical meaning of the seventh year, there is an internal process which happens in parallel, a process which happens to each Jew, even if he is a city dweller who’s never seen a real plough in his life…

Like every mitzvah and matter in the Torah, the mitzvah of shmitah is connected to each part of a person- thought, speech and action; his lower soul, his spirit, and his higher soul.  Therefore there is also the mitzvah of shmitah in our soul, a mitzvah which applies to all of us.

What is the idea of a sabbatical in our soul?

Shmitah in the soul is letting go.

The sabbatical year, like its name that is its essence, it teaches a person to release and to stop working.  To let go.  Not to be in control.  This year reminds someone that “the land is Mine” (Leviticus, 25:23) – the land belongs to Hashem and man is responsible for the land, but he doesn’t have the permission to do to the land whatever he wants.  In the sabbatical year man is ‘exiled’ from his land for a full year, he separates himself from his daily matters for matters which he usually does not have free time to involve himself with, he takes a step back and contemplates.

And like in the field, so too in our soul, we are requested to release all those things which might prevent our connection to our roots, to forego the habits which seem like we can’t live without, and to distance ourselves from anything that might blur our true purpose and to loosen our grip, to be in a state of zero strength.

What is letting go?

It is a blessed movement in our soul which comes from humility and faith and brings us to trust in Hashem and calmness.

Releasing begins when a person understands that he is not the one who controls reality, he believes that there is a greater power who guides everything, also him, and he recognizes that everything he has in his life, on the inside and the outside, doesn’t belong to him, but rather to the Creator, and everything is just a deposit in his hands.  If the Torah teaches me to release something that is very precious to me, to the point that I think that I won’t be able to live without it, it comes from Divine providence, and it is because the Torah wants to give me something much better than this.

When a person accepts this he’ll succeed in releasing his hysterical, automatic hold on reality.  He’ll let go of effort, even when we’re speaking of an effort which the Torah itself requested of him previously; to move between different situations according to the commands;  to be released from old and set patterns and to surrender oneself to external dictates, even if they are not understood and familiar and to lift one’s eyes to Heaven, instead of to the earth…

This letting go makes space for Hashem to enter inside of him, and gives him trust and Godly calmness, because that is the process: “Desist and know that I am Hashem.” (Psalms, 46:11)

When I let go of my hold of exact plans and difficult work, I create space for Hashem.

When I understand that the story is not mine, that my perspective and control are limited and narrow, I allow a place for Hashem to do His part and I open the window for Heavenly assistance and surprising occurrences, even miracles.

When I forego my strong control on everything which moves in my life, I stop being stubborn in my opinions and plans and the goals I set for myself, and I nullify myself before God’s will: “Because it’s forbidden for a person to hold strongly onto anything, that is to say it’s forbidden to be stubborn… since Hashem will do for him specifically what he requests, because it’s like a person who takes something by force, by stealing; a person just needs to pray and plead before Hashem with mercy and supplication; if Hashem gives he gives, and if not then not.” (Likutei Moharan, Torah 196)

It’s possible to see this clearly and tangibly in the story of the sophisticate and the simpleton.  The simpleton, whose entire essence is internal calmness and release, receives a letter from the king which says that the king wants to see him.  The simpleton is not scared or shaken up by the sudden call, he just clarifies that this is not a joke, and he joins the messenger.  With complete relaxation, with incredible completeness.  He doesn’t even wonder how he’ll reach the king, he also doesn’t bother to find a replacement for himself and his shoe store, in order not to lose his business in his absence.  He doesn’t hold on to anything; the king is calling him, so he leaves everything and comes.  And this was the opening for the biggest change of his life.  Because if you don’t hold on tight, Hashem enters the picture and brings you to the city of the king… therefore there really is no more need for the shoe store…

And this is not just a story, because if we will take to heart this possibility and be open to it, we can expect to see, again and again, in an endless amount of situations how things happen without our direct involvement.

We just let go, released our hands from too much control, and stopped our involvement, and all the rest Hashem did for our best.

[1] Sabbatical year

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