The Foundation Connection
"Welcome to Eretz Yisrael, cousin Dovid and family!" "Thank you for the wonderful welcome cousin Betzalel. We are very happy and grateful to be here. In fact, we thank Hashem that we are alive."
"You must be feeling that way because of the hurricane that hit your city last month."
"That's right, cousin Betzalel. The powerful winds caused so much destruction. We were saved. Boruch Hashem, our house had a foundation."
"Did that make a difference, cousin Dovid?"
"It surely did. Buildings that were built with strong concrete foundations survived the 150 mile per hour winds. Other buildings that were merely built on top of the ground just blew away."
"You're not going to believe this, cousin Dovid, but Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l uses the same parable to describe the middah (character trait) that we are working on this week - the sixth week of Sefiras HaOmer."
"Please share his insight with me cousin Betzalel. It sounds fascinating."
"Each of the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuos has its own middah. If we take the responsibility of working on improving that middah during that week, we will receive tremendous Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance). The success that we enjoy will have an impact on all of the rest of the weeks of the year."
"On a simple level, when one acquires a good middah, it becomes his. He now has a skill that he can use whenever he needs it. The middah of the second week is gevura (self control). If he gains more inner strength during the second week, he can use it the rest of his life, whenever he needs to resist temptation."
"On a deeper level, the Arizal says that these seven weeks are the 'roots' of the entire year. Hashem looks at our deeds during these weeks, evaluates them, and guides the events of the rest of the year based upon that. So you see, cousin Dovid, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us."
"Let's get started cousin Betzalel! What is the middah of the week?"
"It is called 'yesod,' which means foundation. The foundation is the strong connection between the building and the ground. So too, one who has the middah of yesod is strongly connected to Hashem."
"Practically speaking, how does he forge this strong connection?"
"He is always thinking about The Almighty. Everything that he does is for Hashem. He eats to gain the energy to serve Hashem. He learns Torah to know the will of Hashem. He acts kindly towards his people because they are Hashem's children. He sleeps to gain strength to serve The Creator. He uses his money only for Hashem's mitzvos. Even his thoughts are dedicated exclusively to Torah and mitzvos. He is constantly addressing himself to his Master."
"It is not hard to understand why he forms a close connection, cousin Betzalel. If you think about anyone or anything constantly, you will become attached to it. How much more so The Holy One, Blessed Be He, who gives you Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance) every step along the way as you put in the effort to be close to Him."
"Exactly, cousin Dovid. A tsaddik has the middah of yesod, as the verse states, 'Tsaddik yesod olam' (a tsaddik is the foundation of the world) [Mishlei 10:25]. The Metsudas Dovid explains that a tsaddik is steadfast. He is so totally dedicated to serving Hashem, that he becomes as stable [in his emunah (faith)] as the bedrock of the world. Therefore, when troubles come along, the wicked people become flustered, and lose their trust in Hashem. However, the tsaddik is so strongly attached to The Almighty that nothing shakes his emunah. The Malbim goes even further and states that the tsaddik's close relationship with The Creator serves as the foundation which supports not only himself, but the entire world."
"What an accomplishment!"
"Yes. These are the heights that a person can reach by coming close to Hashem."
Kinderlach . . .
This is the week to strengthen our connection to Hashem. How? By always thinking about Him. By relating everything that we do to Him. By serving Him with our every thought and every action every moment of every day. Rav Avigdor Miller says that constantly thinking about Hashem is one of life's greatest accomplishments. This is what brings a person close to Hashem. This is what forges a strong connection between him and his Creator. This is the middah of yesod - foundation. Build a strong foundation this week, kinderlach. Attach yourself firmly to Hashem and become a tsaddik yesod olam.
The Holy Land
"Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai saying, '…the land shall rest for Hashem'" (Vayikra 25:1-2). Rashi asks the famous question, "How is Shmitta (the Sabbatical year) related to Har Sinai?" The Keli Yakar has a novel answer to this question. Shmitta and Har Sinai are similar in many ways. Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Har Sinai after counting seven weeks (49 days) from Yetzias Mitzraim. So too, Shmitta is once every seven years, and Yovel is after seven Shmittas (49 years). Har Sinai became holy, and it was forbidden to plow and plant there. Similarly, these melachos are forbidden during the Shmitta and Yovel years, due to the holiness of the Land of Israel. The Shofar sounded during the Yovel year just as it sounded during the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai. At that time, Hashem taught Moshe Rabbeinu about the Shmitta and Yovel years. They were imbued with holiness just as Har Sinai was. The air of the Land of Israel imparts wisdom, just as Har Sinai did. There is no Torah like the Torah learned in the Land of Israel. So too, there is no Torah like the Torah learned at Har Sinai.
We are at the eve of the Shmitta year, and we are approaching Shavuos, the time of the giving of the Torah. We know how holy Har Sinai was. There we were shown that Hashem is G-d and there is no One besides Him (Devarim 4:35). All of the heavens opened for us. The Keli Yakar is telling us that the Land of Israel has the same holiness. Let us all try to appreciate that holiness.
Kinderlach . . .
Many Jews are very fortunate to live in the Land of Israel. Let us all try to appreciate its holiness. We can learn the halachos of Shmitta. We can learn the halachos of other mitzvos that can only be performed in the Land of Israel, such as trumah and maaser. We can strengthen the observance of these mitzvos. And we can prepare ourselves for the giving of the Torah this Shavuos.
Can one bring a bechor for a korbon? (27:26 and Rashi)
How does one calculate the value of a field that he has made hekdesh? (27:16 and Rashi)
What will eventually happen to a person who does not keep the laws of shmitta? (Rashi 26:1)
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