The holy Torah, our guide book through life, gives us not only direction but the fuel/energy to strive towards our goals and aspirations, yet we find almost a complete parsha ( Behar 25: 1 – 55) dedicated to commanding us on each seventh (Shemita) and the fiftieth (Yovel) years to cease from many halachic forms of “effort”. These lengthy periods of cessation from certain halachically defined activities, for the uniformed would naturally appear to be the antithesis of productive effort. However, as contradictory as it may appear on the surface, these macrocosmic periods of “applied restraint” are the most valuable times for growth and development. This is because there is no higher goal and purpose in life than achieving a level of “pro-active submission” in following the will of   G-d. “Cessation of self-determination” during these times reveals the Divine radiance on earth, thereby crowning Hashem as King of the universe.

Even though we are not presently privy to the full revelation of the Torah as revealed through the Shemita and Yovel, we have been given the privilege weekly through the Shabbos and during the yearly period referred to as Sefiriot HaOmer to make the pro-active proclamation that we are willing to defer and or redirect our self interests.

What application today in our own lives can we derive from the awesome transformational power of  Shemita and especially Yovel? All Jews have holy souls that have been sent down into this world garmented in physical bodies and surrounded by an environment that is ideal for each one of us in order to help rectify and elevate the creation. During our lifetimes we are given various experiences of which some are pleasant and some are very challenging, however all of life’s events are perfectly crafted to serve a purpose for our benefit. If we could but for a moment have a glimpse at our lives from the Heavenly realm, from that prospective the allotment that has been given to us as our portion in life would be seen as tailored made and artfully fitted to help us reach and fulfill our potential. From that panoramic view, there would be no more questions or doubts. Each stage of life and each unique situation whether “traveling” through the “wilderness of experience” or “submitting” to each period of “encampment” would be seen as what it really is: a golden opportunity to achieve rectification and purification.

This ‘ladder’ of development and transition both in the microcosm as well as the macrocosm is a fifty level cycle that we experience yearly through the counting of the Sefiras HaOmer leading up to Matan Torah. Just as each day represents a different combination of attributes, whose interplay allows for refinement of our midos, so also on a macrocosmic level, when the majority of  the Jewish nation are living in Eretz Israel, there is a fifty year cycle culminating in the Yovel year, which is a special gift from G-d, that allows us to transcend the bonds of nature. Perhaps this then can be a deeper connection between the Yovel and Shavous. They can be seen as a (reflective) mirror image of each other, in that Yovel releases indentured bodies from physical bondage thereby allowing for a renewed bonding with the soul, whereas the time of Seferia releases us from our mental and emotional attitudinal bondage allowing for a renewed bonding with the Creator through His Torah.

Just as we draw closer with baited breath to this Yom Tov of Matan Torah so also may we merit soon to hear the long awaited shofar of the final geula.

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