Divrei Azriel: What is "Bitachon"?

This week's dvar Torah is by Avi Libman. Divrei Azriel is edited by Yechezkel Gorelik & Yonoson Kenton.

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YU RIETS Israel Kollel,

And the land will give forth its fruit, and you will eat to be satiated, and dwell securely on it [the land]. But if you will say, "What will we eat in the seventh year, for we have not planted, nor gathered our produce". So I shall command my blessing etc. (Vayikra 25:19-21)

From these pesukim (verses), the Sforno gleans a very deep yesod, principle, in 'bitachon', reliance on G-d. He explains that when the Jewish people keep the laws of the seventh year of letting the land lie fallow, shmita [when they apply from the Torah, mid'oraysa], the land will give forth super-nutritious fruit.

This is akin to the omer experience, when one portion would satiate the small or large person alike; and it is also similar to the blessings in next week's Parshah,ואכלתם לחמכם לשובע, you will be sated by your breadk, which Rashi explains to meanthat אוכל קמעא ומתברך במעיו, one can eat a small amount and be miraculously nourished.

The fruit will last for the sixth and seventh year, and you will dwell securely, meaning that you will not be compelled to import food and then suffer ridicule at the hands of the nations for poor agricultural practices.

And if doubts creep into your mind, explains the Sforno, and your 'bitachon' begins to wane, and you ask, "How will one year of crop last for two? How will a typical sized harvest provide nutrient value for double the time?" then I will command [another aspect of ] My blessing, such that the eye will be satiated as well, and then you will be convinced of your security."

When Hashem commands His blessings in our produce, according to the Sforno, it is a response to our lack of 'bitachon'. In truth, an even higher level of 'bitachon' is not to ask, "What will we eat in the seventh year", but just to be confident that Hashem is taking care of us. We can extrapolate from the Sforno's exegesis that, once we do ask, we are bound to do more work, collecting and storing all the extra food. All that time could have been utilized for more spiritual endeavors.

I once heard a mashal, parable, of a man who worked excessively his whole life to attain financial security, and ultimately became a multimillionaire. When it came time to marry off his daughters, his prospective in-laws, מחתנים, (knowing his financial status and not wanting to lose an opportunity), demanded million-dollar dowries. After marrying off his last daughter, he told a friend that all those years of hard work were justified, for had he not made all that money, he wouldn't have been able to marry off his daughters.

We hear the story and smile - obviously, Hashem arranges marriages from on high, He is meshadech shiduchim and the man's prospective in-laws מחתנים only demanded that money because they knew they could. But in our own lives, whether in the realm of shiduchim (suggestions for marriage), income (parnassa) or anything else, we struggle to believe that אוכל קמעא ומתברך במעיו, or that one regular year's worth of effort and produce can last for two years.

One of the main lessons of the mitzvah of shmita is that Hashem can provide for us even in ways that we might not intuit, and internalizing this message might very well be the key step in helping us dedicate more time to spiritual endeavours.

May we all merit to have clarity in our knowledge that Hashem takes care of all our needs, and may we merit to be fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba'aretz, the commandments that apply only in Israel (such as shmitta) with complete 'bitachon' and may we merit to see the Redemption in our time..