TORAH TUESDAYS: PARSHAT BEHAR BECHUKOTAI
BY HENNIE BLACK
In this week’s Torah portion of BEHAR-BECHUKOTAI, WE LOOK AT THE COMMANDEMENT OF SHMITAH, THE 7 YEAR AGRICULTURAL CYCLE, WHEN WE LEAVE OUR FIELDS FALLOW.
WE ARE PROMISED THAT WHEN KEEPING THIS MITZVAH, WE WILL EAT TO “SATIETY.”
BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN EXACTLY?
HINT: iT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW MUCH FOOD WE PRODUCE OR CONSUME.
This week we have a double parsha of Behar and Bechukotai. In Behar we are promised that if we observe the laws of Shemitah, which involves observing the Sabbatical year and leaving the land fallow every seven years, we will be blessed with satiation: “And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety.”
What does it mean to eat to “satiety”? Does it mean that we will have so much food, that we will eat in abundance, taking second and third portions? The commentator Rashi explains that the blessing really means that we will be satisfied with the food we have. It doesn’t mean necessarily that we will have so much, rather what we do have will satiate us. We can be satisfied with less. It is not about the quantity of food that we have, but rather the food that we do have will be of such quality that it will be enough to satisfy us.
In life there are two ways that we measure or value things–either qualitatively or quantitatively. In our society, we generally focus more on quantity—we focus on measuring value with standards such as—how much does something weigh? How much does it cost? How big is it? How much time will it take? How much do I have in my bank account? We are always wanting more—more time, more space, and more money.
It’s so much harder to measure something qualitatively. Do we think as much about the quality of our life—is the quality of the life that I am living valuable, meaningful, inspirational?
In our society today, we have so much, yet many times we feel this sense of dissatisfaction. Why? It could stem from envy. We look at what others have and we want more; we like what they have better.
Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz, a famous thinker and teacher of Jewish ethics, explains that the blessings of satiation is not about the quality of food, but rather about our perceptions of what we do have.
According to Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz, the same amount and the same quality of food will be granted to us in a year blessed and in a year not blessed. The difference will be in our attitude. Are we satisfied with what we have or not? To be satisfied is one of the greatest blessings that we can have. But this blessing has little to do with the amount of food or belongings that people eat or own. Rather, it has to do with our mindset.
As we are taught in Pirkei Avos, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.” May we all be blessed with the blessing of satiation in order to really appreciate and be grateful for what we have.