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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Behar: Aspirin vs. No Aspirin

Updated: May 24

וכי תאמרו מה נאכל בשנה השביעת הן לא נזרע ולא נאסף את תבואתנו. וצויתי את ברכתי לכם בשנה הששית ועשת את התבואה לשלש השנים. (ויקרא כה:כ,כא)
“And if you will ask ‘what will we eat in the seventh year- behold we did not plant and we did not gather our produce’; and I will order my blessing to you in the sixth year and the produce will last for three years”

After describing in detail the restrictions of the Shmitta year -- sowing, pruning, harvesting, and plowing -- the Torah anticipates the obvious question: if we are not allowed to work the field, what would we eat? Hashem responds, “Don’t worry! I will order My blessing. The crops will produce so much that you will have enough to last for three years.” The Torah describes how we will need to empty our silos from the old produce to make room for the new. Our storage houses will simply not be big enough to hold all of the blessed crops.

One wonders, however, what would have been had we not asked the question? Would Hashem not have responded with blessing? Would we not have enough to last for the three years?

A closer look at the pesukim reveals something else perplexing. The previous verse, even before we asked the question, already promised that we will be satisfied! ונתנה הארץ פריה ואכלתם לשובע וישבתם לבטח עליה - and the land will give forth its fruit, and you will eat to satiation, and you will dwell securely upon it. What, then, changes after we "ask" and Hashem promises blessing again?

The Greatest Blessing is not Abundance, but...

Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l gives an insightful answer: Two people receive blessings regarding headaches. One is promised an unlimited supply of Aspirin to alleviate every headache. The other is guaranteed no headaches. Who has a better blessing? Obviously, the one who won't suffer from headaches in the first place! Removing the need for Aspirin is far better than having abundant supply of the medicine to satisfy the need.

Had we not asked "what will we eat?", the grain would have been so blessed that we would not have needed it in abundance.

Had we not asked "what will we eat?", the grain would have been so blessed that we would not have needed it in abundance. The little produced would have been so nutritious and satiating that it would last and sustain for the entire year of Shmitta! It wouldn’t even be necessary to ‘clear our silos to make room’. We would not need to worry where we would store all the grain -- the small amount of grain would simply be enough.

We know that "!אזיהו עשיר? השמח בחלקו" Who is wealthy? He who is satisfied with what he has. The true blessing is when Hashem helps us overcome our needs... when the right amount is simply enough!

May we all merit to appreciate Hashem’s Goodness and Blessing, and to have everything we need to serve Him!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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