What’s your center?

Friday, 24 May, 2024 - 4:57 am

Have you heard about the “center”?

If you have seen a coach recently, or if you have even read articles by coaches of this generation, you must have encountered the concept of “center”. Life coaches will tell you that in everything you do in life – any job or project, task or even trip – you should make sure that you are not losing your center – in other words, that you are not losing your focus. When one knows why one is getting up in the morning – that is one’s center. And if one’s day is built around it, one’s schedule and choices will be clear and correct, and have a minimum of frustrations. When a family goes off on a trip, and knows the trip’s purpose, that is the trip’s center, and from then one the choice of sites or the effort and cost of the choice will be right, and healthier, because they will mirror the trip’s center.

By the way, when a man or woman are searching for a life-partner, they can save themselves most of the doubts and deliberations if they know what their center is in life.

In the second passuk of parashat Behar, the Torah tells us what the center of our life is.

Parashat Behar, which we will read tomorrow, opens with the mitzvah of Shmittah, but the order of the psukim is somewhat puzzling. The command to make a year of Shmittah, a year during which one does not work the land, comes before the Torah tells us to work the land for six years. “When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath rest of Hashem. Six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard.” Logically, the correct order should have been: come into the land, work for six years and then make a Sabbath year, a shmittah. Why did the Torah write it that way?

In a general letter that the Rebbe wrote during the days of Selichot of 1965 “to sons and daughters of Israel in every place,” he brought up this question, and explained: “The order in the Torah is also a teaching in itself. The order in relation to the shmittah teaches us what our approach to life should be: when a person comes to a land and has to arrange his life, he should know that the foremost, most important thing, both in terms of worldview and as a goal, is ‘Sabbath for Hashem.’ Not the material, earthly pursuits, but the spiritual and holiness-oriented ones. This approach ensures that he will not drown in material, earthly matters. Moreover, when this idea is always in front of him, the six days of grey routine change; they lose a great part of their everyday-ness. They send out more light and are fuller with content. This is the way to create a full and harmonious life.”

The Shmittah, which is a Sabbath for Hashem, is what should be the “center” of the six years of plowing and sowing, just like the weekly Shabbat and what it represents should be the center of the six days of the week. And if there is a clear center, everything is much simpler.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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