Don't worry; let G‑d do the worrying for us




Insight into: Parsha Behar/Pent. Lev. 25:1-26:2, Pr. Jer. 32:6-27 

Are you a worrier? If you are, you're in good company, mine! As a young child growing up in Israel, I used to worry about everything from missing the bus to security and war. Often, during family discussions, I would inquire of my father, "Aren't you worried about such-and-such?"

In the parsha of this week, Parshat Behar, we are commanded regarding the observances of the shmitta (sabbatical) year; … the land should have a complete rest, a Sabbath to G‑d (Leviticus 25:4)

To this day, the laws of shmitta are observed in Israel. Every seventh year, farmers in Israel do not work their land. They literally let their property "enjoy" a sabbatical. 

For a farmer in Israel whose livelihood is totally dependent on working his land, this commandment is a real challenge. How will he make ends meet for an entire year? 

It gets even harder when they reach the 50th year. The Torah describes the 50th year as the Jubilee Year, Yovel, (observed only during the times of the Holy Temple) and continues with the same command not to sow or reap the land. Whenever a Jubilee Year was reached, there were two consecutive years of no income n the 49th year, the Sabbatical Year, and the 50th year, the Jubilee. 

The Torah validates these worries and discusses it in this parsha, too. When you will say what will we eat in the seventh year if we will not sow and not gather our produce, G‑d promises: I will direct my blessing to you in the 6th year, and it will yield produce for three years. (Leviticus 25:20). 

In practical terms, how does one actually achieve the level of not worrying even when you hear that "it's going to be okay"? Don't the problems keep bothering you? 

Judaism has a basic concept called bitachon, which means trust in G‑d. Many people believe in G‑d, but true trust in G‑d is a whole different level. People who trust in G‑d don't worry. They do their best to help out the situation, but they know that the outcome is in the hands of G‑d, and ultimately, it's for the good. 

The concept is beautiful, but how do we reach this level of faith? 

My father's answer used to put everything in perspective. He would reminisce about his life, starting with running away from the Germans at age 12, and surviving hardships in Russia. Trying to cross the border at age 19 cost him seven years of hard labor in Siberia. 

He would turn to me and say, "After getting a miraculous release from Russia in 1967 and arriving penniless in Israel, look what a wonderful family we have today. After all this, I should worry? Let G‑d worry!" 

We don't have to live through such trials to reach this level of faith in G‑d. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, once said to a chronic worrier, "Look back to where you were ten years ago and look where you have reached today, and tell me: Is there a reason to worry?" 

In America they say, "Don't worry; be happy." My father taught me, "Don't worry; Let G‑d worry!"