I decided to finally go to Meron, the burial place of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochi, on the anniversary of his passing, this past Lag B’Omer. I figured that since I DO live only 35 minutes away, AND it starts right after Shabbos, I can make it there before the hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country do.
Even though I arrived around 10:45 p.m., it was already packed with thousands of people, with music, food, lights, dancing . . . you name it. I was able to get in and daven properly (as properly as one can do under such circumstances) and get home by 1:15 a.m. It was amazing to see such a wide variety of Jews from all over converge all in one spot. The police did a great job, along with whatever organizers there were. At least at night. I heard during periods of the day, nothing was moving. But all in all, it was a very positive experience, one that I would do again in the future. I put up some (blurry) photos and a video, so you have an idea (mbf.me/dlW1dd), and you can only imagine what it was like later in the night and the next day when everybody from the center and south of the country were coming in!
Okay, on to Torah!
Regarding Shmittah, that is being taught in this week’s parsha, the pasuk states that the fruit of the sixth year will be enough to live off during the Shmittah year. Then it continues and promises that if anybody is concerned, Hashem will give them enough during the sixth year that will last the next three years. Yeah, read that over again, it’s a bit confusing, but that’s what it says. You will be given enough during the sixth year that will last through Shmittah, and if you are worried, you will be given enough for three years, during the sixth year.
The Seforno explains these pesukim as follows: Hashem promises that the small amount of produce left over from the previous year will satisfy those who trust in Hashem. If somebody is doubtful, Hashem will provide him for three times the amount of his regular harvest during the year before Shmittah. Therefore, the person who trusts in Hashem will "somehow" live with very little, and those who don’t will receive their normal fill.
We see that Hashem deals with those who trust in Him in a supernatural way, and deals with those with less trust in a less supernatural way. He deals with us as we deal with Him.
It’s interesting to note that Lag B’Omer falls out on this week’s parsha. Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai believed that a person does not need to work for a living. If he sits and learns, Hashem will provide for him. While the halacha is like Rebbe Yishmoel, that one is allowed to work in order to support himself to learn Torah, one IS allowed to live according to the standards of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, if he is up to the challenge. The Gemara notes that many have tried like Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai and failed, and many tried like Rebbe Yishmoel and were successful. So we see that this level is for the few.
When I was discussing this issue with a friend, I made a comment about how certain people are learning full time in kollel, with growing families, after many years, and must be students of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai. He corrected me, quoting one of our rabbeim who said that somebody who is sitting and learning all day and night, can still be like Rebbe Yishmoel. If he is being supported by others and IS RELYING on them, then he is not like Rebbe Shimon. Only a person who is sitting and learning all day and night, and is relying on HASHEM, can be said to be a student of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai.
That cut down my list to two people that I can think of. Both of them are not in the most comfortable financial situation, but are still “somehow” doing it, and putting food on their table. Ask them how they are doing it, and they won’t be able to explain how, but they have seen miracles that have turned the little that they receive into enough to live on. I’m not on such a level, but I’m happy that I know some that are.
The more a person’s trust is in Hashem, the more Hashem takes care of him . . . even with less.