The Torah teaches us what trust in G-d is all about.
The Torah commands that in the Shemitta – Sabbatical year – a land owner in the Land of Israel must, in effect, relinquish ownership of his land every seventh year. He is forbidden to productively work the field and to conduct commerce with its yield.
If this is not enough of a challenge, the Torah commands that after seven sabbatical cycles comes the 50th Yovel – Jubilee year which is also forbidden to work the field. Thus the 49th year, which is the last Sabbatical year of the seventh cycle, is immediately followed by the Jubilee year, and for two straight years the land must remain fallow. This requires an even stronger trust in G-d.
The obvious question is, how were they able to survive? G-d responds to this question in the Torah by guaranteeing that He will command a blessing in the produce of the 48th year that it would be so abundant and rich that it would tide them through the 49th and 50th years, and also the following year, until the new crop grows.
Such a guarantee could only be given by the One Who is in control over all – G-d Almighty.
King David in a verse in the Book of Psalms extols those who submit to and uphold the laws of Shemitta, “Bless Hashem, O His angels, the strong warriors who do His bidding, to obey the voice of His word.”
The observers of Shemitta are compared to angels – just as angels serve G-d without pause or consideration, so too, is the devotion of a Shemitta observer when he stands by his field each day and watches it go to waste yet refrains from working it. He knows that this what G-d commanded and desires.
The fiftieth – Yovel year also emancipates the Hebrew slaves by releasing them to go free. Yovel also causes all property sold in the land of Israel to return to the ancestral owner of the property.
The Torah calls these freedoms caused by jubilee year “Dror”. “Dror” is also a name of the freedom bird. Our Sages tell us that the freedom Dror bird is so called because it moves about from place to place adapting to different climates, and is never cooped up in one place.
I recently came across a beautiful presentation by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein who focuses on two forms of the word bird used in the Torah, one is “Oaf” the other is “Tzipor”. From this he develops a lesson on trust which is related to Shemitta.
He quotes Rabbi Chanoch Zundel of Bialastok who gleans from various sources that “Oaf” describes non-kosher birds, who are strong winged and predators, while the Torah uses the term Tzipor to connote Kosher birds who are weaker and non-predatory bird who suffice with whatever food man or nature grants them.
A Tzipor – kosher bird which trusts in others to provide for its food is able to sleep at night, and upon awakening in the morning, it begins to chirp.
On the other hand, an Oaf type of bird, does not sleep at night and awaken in the morning, because as a predator it is always seeking its next victim to consume. It is totally self-reliant and therefore is continually restless and cannot relax.
Rabbi Klein applies this lesson to man. When one trusts in G-d as the One who ultimately provides, he can rest assured, relying on his Creator to take care of his needs.
However, if one believes that prosperity is due to his own handiwork, it will cause him to be continually on edge, trying to make sure that he can produce for himself all the provisions necessary for survival.
By abstaining from creative work on the weekly Shabbos, we are reminded not to get wrapped up in thinking that all we have accomplished during the week is due to our own personal strength and abilities. Shabbos affords us the time to refocus on from where our blessings and successes ultimately come.
G-d felt it necessary for land owners and agricultural workers in the Land of Israel to go through an entire year of stepping back, so that they can actualize and feel that all the blessings and growth are a direct result of G-d’s personal direction.
In truth, each time before we take food into our mouths, we pause and recite a blessing, so that we continually inculcate into our consciousness the feeling of appreciation and recognition that G-d is the source and basis of all the gifts that we enjoy and experience.
The effect of these frequent expressions of gratitude leads us to more liberally express our thanks to G-d for His gifts and to acknowledge our fellow when credit is due.