Give Me a Break!

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Parshat Behar (Vayikra 25:2) begins with an in depth explanation of the laws of Shmita (the Sabbatical year).


The laws of Shmita were already introduced in Shmot 23:10-11, Parshat Mishpatim: “Six years shall you sow your land and gather in its produce. And in the seventh, you shall leave it untended and unharvested, and the destitute of your people shall eat, and the wildlife of the field shall eat what is left; so shall you do to your vineyard and to your olive grove.”


The following pasuk, Shmot 23:12 speaks about the observance of Shabbat: “Six days shall you accomplish your activities, and on the seventh day you shall desist, so that your ox and donkey may be content and your maidservant’s son and the sojourner may be refreshed.” 


Shmita and Shabbat are juxtaposed as they both represent man’s testimony that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh.


In Israel there are no long weekends, we don’t even have weekends! The only day that we have off is Shabbat! This past week we celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut so we had an extra day off which was a real treat!


It is great to have Shabbat each week but when you work very hard week in and week out, sometimes you need more than just one day.


Both Shabbat and Shmita teach us that there is more to life than work and that we must take a break from our work just as God did when He created the world.


While on Shabbat we are forbidden to work, during the Shmita year we may not work the land, yet we are permitted to work in another field (no pun intended).


Many Israeli farmers take off the Shmita year to teach agriculture in the schools, study Torah or pursue other interests.


We can learn from the laws of Shmita and Shabbat that there is more to life than work and that when we take a break we will come back more refreshed as well as better workers.


Just as we should not be slaves to the land, we should have the courage to not be slaves to our jobs.