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Posted on May 9, 2018 (5778) By Rabbi Naftali Reich | Series: | Level:

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 matter.

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.

Wishing you a delightful Shabbos,

Rabbi Naftali Reich

Text Copyright © 2014 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and

Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.