This week we read the last two Sedrot – Portions of the Chumash of VAYIKRA.

In the first BEHAR (mountain in Hebrew) Moses hears the commandments, to covey to the Jewish People the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years.

In the second portion BECHUKOTAI (rules in Hebrew) for following G-d’s commandments – rules, that they will be rewarded with material wealth and well – being. The opposite is also true.

“In the seventh year, the land must be given a complete rest….I will command my blessing for you in the Sixth year.” (25:4)

Although leaving of the land fallow for a year may indeed improve its fertility, this cannot be the purpose of the Sabbatical year. If it were, G-d would have promised to increase the yield of the year following the fallow year not preceding it. By promising an increased yield in the sixth year – which should naturally be the least productive! G-d shows us that it is specifically and exclusively His blessing that is the source of the increased yield.

The lesson for us is as follows: As Jews we are required to spend time each day in prayer and study of the Torah; we must give charity, support Jewish education and abstain from work on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. How can we hope to live financially sound lives when our non-Jewish neighbours, who are not “handicapped” by any of these obligations and restrictions, struggle to earn their livelihood?

The Sabbatical year teaches us that when we do what G-d desires, He will bless us – not only spiritually, but materially as well.

Wishing you a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat followed by a productive week.