shiur for parashas Behar-Bechukosai 5781
“Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the produce thereof. But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath unto the L-RD; thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.”
– Leviticus 25:3-4, JPS 1917 Tanach
What is more important, the symbol or what the symbol conveys? The sages say that on Shabbos we get a glimpse of Olam Haba (the World to Come). While we look forward to a day of rest every week, the greater import is its likeness to Olam Haba. Therefore, both the weekly Shabbos, a twenty-five hour period of rest, and what the Shabbos conveys have significance. We enjoy our day of rest in this world, and are inspired, even reassured by the forthcoming thousand year Sabbath, that precedes Olam Haba, in the next world, when the new heavens and the new earth appear (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22).
A similar question, what is more tangible, the symbol or what the symbol points toward? Regarding Shabbat, it seems quite apparent that three festive meals, two of them preceded by Kiddush, are well worth waiting for throughout the previous six days of week, and very tangible realities. Yet, they are ephemeral; and, after havdallah, although our souls are somewhat comforted by the smell of the besamim (spices, usually cloves), we still have the mundane weekdays ahead of us.
Because we cannot conceive of the World to Come, Olam Haba is described in “the negative,” as follows: Kitvei Kodesh (Holy Scripture) describes Olam Haba as a place in time, whereof no eye has seen, nor ear heard of its delights (Isaiah 64:3). Although Olam Haba may seem less tangible, from our perspective in Olam HaZeh (This World), Olam Haba will last forever – food for thought.
The commandment of Shemitah, wherein the land lies fallow every seventh year, is also symbolic of the Millennial Shabbos. The first six years, wherein the land was worked represent the six thousand years of history mentioned in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98). In the seventh year, the land lies fallow, pointing towards the thousand years of peace. Thus, the implied message may be taken that there is a reward for our efforts in this world, on a spiritual level, so that the souls that are written in the Book of Life, may partake of eternal life at the Tehillas HaMeisim (Resurrection of the Dead).
“This world is like a corridor before Olam Haba; prepare yourself in the corridor, so that you may enter the Banquet Hall.” – Pirkei Avot 4:21