VeTziviti Et Birkati- Birkat HaShmita
The Torah states (Vayikra 25: 20-21): “You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years.”
This is a unique blessing of bounty that the Creator has explicitly promised to shmita-observers!
The poskim have ruled that according to most opinions shmita is not d’Orayta in our generation. But will Hashem still bestow a blessing upon those who observe the mitzva of shmita? We will now go on to prove that most of the poskim have stated that this promise is still applicable.
The Chidushei HaRim (Gitin:36b) wrote that even this blessing applies even during Shviit mid’Rabanan. This is what he wrote in his Shut ‘Hitorerut Tshuva’ (Chelek A 151:198). The Chazon Ish wrote the same thing in Shviit 18:104). This is also stated in the Shut ‘Yeshuot Malko’ (Yoreh De’ah 53). The sefer Mishnat Yosef (Chelek Alef 16) brought down the tshuva of HaGaon Rabbi Y. Veltz, author of the Shut ‘Divrei Yisrael’ who stated with regards to the tshuva of HaGaon Rabbi Avraham from Danzig (printed in the pamphlet of letters at the beginning of the sefer Pe’at HaShulchan and Beit HaRidbaz) that he wrote that he heard from the tzaddik Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher in the year 1870 that if the Jews in Israel [at that time] would fulfill the mitzva of shmita according to the Torah, we are sure that the All-Merciful Lord shall adhere to his promise of VeTziviti Et Birkati. The Rabeinu HaKadosh of Satmar in his kuntras ‘Shalosh Tshuvot’ (tshuva b, p. 53) stated that this bracha still exists and is practiced today.
When explaining the fact that even though the chiyuv is only mid’Rabanan, the blessing still applies, the Chazon Ish wrote (ibid.) that ‘it would appear as though the bracha also existed during the time of the Second Beit HaMikdash and even after the destruction, because the Beit Din Shel Ma’alah acts according to the Beit Din Shel Matah’. And according to this principle, the Shut ‘Hitorerut Tshuva’ (ibid. 151) states: It is written “LaKel Gomer Alai” and the Almighty agrees with the rulings of the Beit Din, and why shouldn’t Hashem send His help from His holy abode in a great bracha to whoever fulfills the words of the Chachamim. Honestly, we have seen concepts such as wealth and poverty many times in the Gemara, for example: he who is mezalzel in netilat yadayim merits poverty, and the opposite is also true, that many blessings are promised to those who observe the words of Chazal and who love the words of the sofrim. He also wrote (ibid. si’ 198) that the Torah obligates us to heed to the words of the chachamim. And why should those who fulfill the mitzva of shmita not be blessed when they fulfill this mitzva? Because the Torah commands them to listen to Chazal! Nothing stands in the way of Hashem’s salvation. He can give rewards for both mitzvos d’Orayta and d’Rabanan, just as Hashem subjugates nature to the words of the Rabanim, as is stated in the Yerushalmi.
Another argument for this case can be understood according to the aforementioned words of the Beit HaLevi, who wrote that even though there is no chiyuv min haTorah in our generation, the ‘shomer shmita’ is in fact fulfilling a mitzvat aseh from the Torah. So, according to his words that the ‘shomer shmita’ is being mekayem a mitzva min haTorah, the promise that Hashem promised definitely applies to all shomrei shvi’it.
On the other hand, according to the words of the SM”A (Sefer Me’irat Einayim) (67:160) he explains that this promise is not applicable in this day and age, as he wrote: “The bracha of three years’ worth of crops growing in the sixth year only applied in a time when shmita and yovel were practiced min haTorah.” The Chatam Sofer wrote in Gitin (36) that this promise does not exist in our generation.
However, in the sefer mishnat Yosef (chelek A, p. 16) brought down the answer of Rabbi Binyomin Mendelsohn zt”l, Av Beit Din of Komemiyut and founder of Keren HaShviis, who wrote that we should understand that even the SM”A (Sefer Me’irat Einayim) admits that this bracha does in fact apply during shmita in generation. Rabbi Mendelsohn explains that the SM”A, when writing in his sefer that the bracha does not apply in our generation, was referring to the shmita that comes immediately before a yovel, when there is a unique bracha for the two years of rest. He states that the SM”A meant that the bracha does not apply in our day and age, to a shmita before a yovel, because the yovel is not noheg min haTorah now. However, the SM”A was of the opinion that the bracha does apply to every regular shmita, and explains the difference between yovel and shmita (ibid.).
Rabbi Mendelsohn zt”l added his eyewitness account: We have seen with our very own eyes the fulfillment of the Torah’s bracha that shomrei shvi’it would not lose out, and the bracha of ‘VeTziviti Et Birkati’ has even been fulfilled in our times.
[Photo credits: hdw]