Yael's Holy Land Reflections
Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)
The Key to Abundant Blessings
We want to share with you this excerpt from Yael’s Nourish Your Biblical Roots podcast on the year of shmita, the sabbatical year. Learn more about this biblical tradition that is still observed by Israelis today — then listen to the entire podcast to find out more.
Letting the Land Rest
In Leviticus, God promises that when we refrain from working the land in the seventh year, the sabbatical year, He will bless us with abundance. This is what He says: “I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years” (Leviticus 25:21).
The Bible tells us that from the time that the Israelites entered the Holy Land, they were required to count six years during which they could work the land. But during the seventh year, they were obligated to let the land rest. This meant no planting, no pruning, no working the land in any way during the sabbatical year, also called the year of shmita.
Amazingly, the counting of the seven-year cycle has been preserved to this very day from the time the Jews entered Israel thousands of years ago. Not only have we kept count of these seven-year cycles, but this practice has been revived in the modern state of Israel. And we have the privilege in our lifetime to see the fulfillment of that biblical directive come alive. In fact, when the Jewish New Year began in September 2021, we entered the current sabbatical year in this seven-year cycle.
Taking a Leap of Faith
I’m not a farmer, but I have a garden that I love planting and tending. My husband and I always decide on the layout, where to plant fruit trees and where to plant herbs. This year, though, we won’t work the land, just as it says in the Bible.
But it’s not just backyards that are affected. More and more farmers in Israel have taken this courageous and faithful step of letting their farmland lay fallow during the year of shmita. Many of these farmers place large banners in front their farms saying this farm observes the sabbatical year, and I can’t tell you how much seeing those signs moves me and inspires me.
These modern farmers take a leap of faith of biblical proportions, trusting that God will take care of them even though they will not work their land or sell their produce for an entire year.
When I see how Israel’s blessed to grow enough produce — not only to feed her own people in this land that was once a desert, but to also export beautiful fruits and vegetables to countries around the world — I know the promise of God is coming true.
Do you know what Israel looked like less than a century ago? The land of Israel was utterly desolate for centuries. No nation could get anything to grow until the Jewish people returned and the land blossomed once more, just as God said it would. And not only does the land yield its fruits, but it does so in abundance.
The seventh year isn’t just about letting the land rest, but about letting go and trusting God.
The purpose of shmita is to remind us that God is the one in control, not us. We release our control, we work less. And paradoxically, we accomplish more. The process of holding back from working the land and then receiving God’s blessing in return teaches us that sometimes we need to do less in order to achieve more.
As the shmita year teaches us, letting go of control and placing our faith in God can be a catalyst for abundant blessings in our lives. God carries us and He can carry our burdens too, but only when we let Him.
In my own life, there are many times I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that I have to get done for The Fellowship. My four children need my care, there are daily tasks I need and want to tend to. But sometimes it all just feels too much for me.
And when that happens, I actually press on the brakes. I stop. I go outside in nature. I take a walk and I put my burdens on God. I tell God how much I depend on Him in order to accomplish what I need to do. I tell God, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I ask God to give me the strength and the wisdom to carry these tasks He’s given me.
We all have areas in our lives where we need to control less and trust God more for our own sake, for our own mental, emotional, and physical health. And I hope that you will practice doing that this week.
With blessings from the Holy Land,