For the past year or so, I’ve been reading the government welfare blessings in English while the guy reads it aloud in the shul at which I daven and just tonight, I discovered a correlation with something from this week’s parsha.
When we ask that “Yisrael yishkon lavetach” (Israel should dwell in security), I see a parallel to the promise made at the end of sheini: “vishavtem al ha’aretz lavetach” (you will live in the land securely — Leviticus 25:18).
But this is not an unconditional promise made by God; rather, it hinges on our fulfillment of the commandments. It’s difficult to think of a world in which all the Jewish people observe the commandments above the threshold that would meet these expectations. As such, I sense, we do not dwell in security, neither in the Land of Israel nor the State of Israel.
It is then that the verses continue: the land shall provide for its inhabitants and do not worry about shmitah-induced famine because the land will produce enough for the nation until such time that newly harvested food is available. I am aware that Aish HaTorah uses this verse (25:20) in its Discovery seminar, but attempting to look at this conditional guarantee with fresh, unjaded eyes, does this verse really serve to provide any sort of evidence for the truth of the Torah? I’m no farmer, but was it normal to have enough leftover food for approximately 2.5 years until the 8th year produce was ready for harvesting? Or did the farmers just anticipate the missing agricultural output and plant more in the 6th year? That’s what I’d do if I were a farmer, because it doesn’t seem like there’s any sort of promise we can count on, the security and abundance of verses 19 and 20 seemingly heavily dependent on the observance and practice of verse 18.