The mitzvah of Sh’mitah is dependent on our level of belief. The Torah states: “If you will ask, ‘What will we eat in the seventh year? Behold! We did not sow nor gather in our crops.” I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield a crop sufficient for three years.” In other words, the Divine blessing that would enrich the soil as a result of the observance of Sh’mitah would compensate threefold for the perceived loss of revenue while the land was allowed to lie fallow. This takes great faith – not just pious words. Do we put our money where our mouths are? Do we place our trust in Him and follow His word to the fullest? Whether it’s keeping Shabbos, honesty in business, or going the extra mile to give tz’dakah, Sh’mitah reminds us that Har Sinai represents a bridge between theory and practice, faith and action, trust and resolve. Upon that mountain, the Almighty took us in as His partner in the business of creation. He wants a strong partner. Hashem wants us to succeed; He wants us to pass the test. He’s been imploring us ever since: “Don’t be a shvacher shutaf (a weak partner).”

The first letters of “Tazria-M’tzora” form the word “meis” (dead), and the last letters (ayin-ayin) have the same numerical value as the word “kam” (to arise). The Torah warns us that one who speaks ill of others is punished by tzaraas (“leprosy”), for he has caused his death. However, if he guards himself from speaking lashon ha’ra and only speaks good of others, then “kam” – he will arise, for he has overcome his inclination to spread rumors about others. Woe to those who speak ill of others and will have no way to arise! That is why it is extremely important to be vigilant in regard to the sin of lashon ha’ra. [Pachad David]

While I was in New York, I was approached by a prestigious chasidic rabbi who told me about a family that was searching for their long-lost daughter. She had been born and raised in Boro Park, and had married there. Unfortunately, the marriage ended badly, but her husband – for whatever reason – refused to give her a get (divorce document). After this went on for a period of time, the wife suddenly disappeared. Her family had since learned that she had gone to Australia, but they had no idea where. Since I was from Australia, the rabbi who approached me thought that maybe I could help them bring their daughter back to her people.

The Torah and our Sages praise Aharon HaKohen after the death of his sons for his silence. The Mashgiach, Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l, discusses the art of silence. He wrote: “We teach a child to speak. Once we teach him to speak, this becomes his nature, to speak and to chatter without end. Do we teach this child how to be silent as well? Behold, silence is also a tool.”

Legend has it that the city of Vilna was founded many centuries ago through an amazing tale involving a young child. But we have it on no greater an authority than the holy Ben Ish Chai, Rabbeinu Yosef Chayim of Baghdad zt”l, that this story is absolutely true.

Chag HaPesach celebrates the birth of our nation, and it may offer us the key to its continued survival. The korban Pesach, the first sacrifice offered as a nation, underscores the need to create and nurture close familial relationships. Faith exists in the intellectual realm, but it comes alive in community, when families unite around common causes. Perhaps that is why one of the most important things families can do on Pesach night, both when the actual korban Pesach was offered as well as in our contemporary model of Pesach seder, is come together.

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