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Behar/Bechukosai- What is The Secret of His Immortality?

Posted on כ״ג באייר ה׳תש״ע (May 7, 2010) | in Bechukotai, Behar | by

CONCERNING THE JEWS … “If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

– Mark Twain

  “Keep my decrees and observe my laws and you will live secure in the land (Behar 25:18)   Rashi comments that these laws and decrees are referring to shmeta. If the Jewish People fail to keep the laws of shmeta, they will not live securely in the land (of Israel), rather they will be sent into exile.   Rabbi Yaakov Chai Zareihen, the Av Beis Din (Cheif Justice of the Jewish Court) of Tiberias (quoted in the compilation book on the weekly portion, K’motze Shalal Rav) points out a remarkable connection between the sin of ignoring shmeta laws and the punishment of exile.   Shmeta (Sabbatical year when land is left fallow) is the symbol of Divine Providence over the Land of Israel and the sustence of Israel. How else can a land that lays fallow for year produce fruits for the next three years?! Numerous sources indicate the intimate relationship between God and the Land of Israel; the special Providence afforded to the …land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:12)   When that Providence is absent due to the neglecting of shmeta laws, the Jewish People are scattered throughout the land. However, God still loves us and cares for us in that exile. The very fact that the Jewish People have existed in exiles for thousands of years displays God’s Providence and Watch over the Jewish People! When God forbid, we do not trust in God’, God must move his providence to a different venue.Thus, our existence in exile is equal to God’ Eye on Israel when we do observe shmeta.   Mark Twain noted our miraculous existence despite our small number. Nations much stronger, by nature, have come and gone.   May we merit to continue observing shmeta and continue to thrive in the exile, both in Israel and abroad.   Good shabbos Yaakov

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