This week's Torah portion begins by outlining in great detail the laws of
the Sabbatical year, where the entire land demonstrated that the primary
Force in the universe is Hashem, not the laws of nature. By leaving the
nation's fields untended and unguarded, the Jewish people demonstrated that
true productivity and success comes when we learn not to elevate the
importance of material gain over dedication to spiritual growth.
This sublime message in Biblical times was re-taught and re-absorbed once
every seven years. During the intervening six years, the nation was to sow
the fields and harvest the crops. This parallels the command to work for six
days of the week and to rest on the Shabbos.
The Torah considers the mitzvah of the Sabbatical year so crucial that it
makes our continued ownership of the land contingent upon our fulfilling
this mitzvah. Just like resting on the Shabbos day is one of the Ten
Commandments and is central to our religious observance, so, too, the
obligation to leave the land fallow and rest in the seventh year of each
cycle, is of seminal importance.
The theme of six days or years designated for work and the seventh for rest
recurs numerous times in the Torah. For example, we are now in the process
of counting the seven weeks of the Omer. In a similar vein, we are
instructed to work for a cycle of seven times seven, or 49 years, and on the
50th year, the jubilee, the entire nation must abstain from work and devote
itself to perfecting its spiritual connection with G-d.
In a more expanded vein, the Talmud teaches that the lifespan of the
material universe we inhabit has the ability to sustain itself for only
6,000 years. In the seventh thousand year cycle, it will revert back to its
original state of total fusion with the Divine, functioning on a higher
plane of existence than we can fathom.
What is the deeper meaning and significance of this recurring theme that
emphasizes the importance of the number seven? Why are we instructed to
devote all our energies to emulating the Creator in performing productive
work for six days, years or cycle of years, and then using the seventh
day/year/cycle solely for spiritual elevation and connecting with the Creator?
The commentaries explain that we are created as finite limited human beings
operating and functioning in a world of physical limitations. We are
constricted by time and space. The capacity of our intellect to absorb and
appreciate the secrets of our complex world and our Creator's infinite
wisdom is woefully limited.
Prior to the world's creation, nothing existed but the Divine presence. For
the purposes of Creation, Hashem constricted His presence, creating a mirage
of duality, diversity, and conflict that lies at the very essence of our
material world. We humans are creatures of opposite currents; yin and yang
flow through our body. Our finite world is a world of conflict.
Indeed, each atom and molecule best expresses this fundamental polarity in
creation with its electron and neutron-positive and negative
energies-swirling around in opposite directions.
The atom's fusion depends upon its nucleus that our scientist tells us
appears and disappears, hundreds of times each millisecond, and pulsates
with a magnificent energy that no one can fully explain! Finding unity
between the innumerable diverse elements of this world and understanding
that at their core lies a Divine source of energy that animates and sustains
each second of life, is a Jew's ultimate challenge.
All physical matter that possesses length breadth and height expresses its
presence in a particular dimension and form. However at its basic level
there are always six sides and facets that are to be found in base physical
matter. When we analyze a cube we will find six polarities that converge and
are equidistant from its core. The limited boundaries reflected in the
number six represent the physical world that we are instructed and empowered
to engage and elevate. Our mission is to connect and bind our material world
to its core, the Divine central force that is the true source of life of all
Thus the seventh day, year, yearly cycle and millennium are all chapters in
time that are propitious for our connecting to the Divine source; finding
unity in creation, and insuring that all the physical components in this
world realize their ultimate mission and purpose.
Reduced to its most basic formulation, this is purpose of existence: to
identify the Creator behind the all of the developments, resources,
conditions and challenges that comprise life. When we devote ourselves to
penetrating the material veil that conceals the Creator, and focus our
efforts on connecting to Him, we will surely feel the confidence and
security of living in the Divine embrace. May that strengthen our faith, and
imbue us with the courage to engage the challenges that face us through out
our work week and work year.