I'm Jon Spira-Savett, rabbi at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, New Hampshire. This website and blog is a resource for Jewish learning and Jewish action. It is a way to share my thoughts beyond my classes and weekly Divrei Torah. You'll find blog posts, standing resource pages with links and things to read, and podcasts as well.
From the insights of the Netivot Shalom ("Paths of Peace") from Rav Shalom Noach Barzovsky, the Slonimer Rebbe:
In this week's parasha, Behar, we learn the mitzvah of the Shabbaton -- the sabbatical of the land. Every seventh year, the Land of Israel is to rest. People are to eat simply what grows naturally from the land in that year.
The Torah itself raises the obvious question. "What will we eat in the seventh year? We are not planting, and we are not harvesting our crops!" (Leviticus 25:20)
Reb Chaim of Tchernovitz observes that the Torah could have asked the question differently: "How can we possibly survive in the seventh year?" Instead, he says, the Torah portrays a person who knows he will eat, but wonders what the miracle of our food really is, and how God brings it about. (He imagines a person asking: Will we see manna from the sky again? Will extra animals show up for us so we can eat them?)
The question of "what will we eat" is not about doubt. It's about trying to understand in general what goes into having enough, not just in the seventh year. How much is my own effort? How much is augmented because of my merits, the extra goodness that flows to me as a consequence of what I do in the world? How much is unpredictable and miraculous? How much is consistently miraculous?
The seventh year is a thought experiment meant to prod us into these questions. Our bodies, says the Slonimer, don't just want the food, but actually crave our answers.