Unplug for a Year

Wednesday, 5 May, 2021 - 2:15 pm

By now you must have heard of the campaign to unplug for a weekend here or there because too much technology is not good for you. This idea is based on a precept in the Torah, that six days you shall work and on the seventh, you shall rest. 


How about unplugging for a full year?


Practically speaking that is impossible for us to do, but how about closing our business for a year? Just taking a sabbatical year off of work. Now we might not be farmers, but if you do some research, you will learn that the Earth needs to rest, and therefore it is imperative for farmers to give the land some time off from growing crops, a year at a time. In fact, just like many non-Jewish stores that remain open seven days a week—where employers rotate their employees so that everyone gets a day or two off—so too, do farmers rotate growing crops in their fields and let different sections rest different years at a time.


Yet, the Torah tells us in this week’s Torah portion, Behar, that the Jewish farmer in the Land of Israel must let their whole land lay fallow for a full year—and that means no income whatsoever. Total shut down.


This begs the question: Why the whole field, “all of your fields,” for the full year? The Torah does not leave us with this question and tells us that every seventh year is a “Shabbat to G-d,” meaning it is to be a year dedicated to G-d. This is not just about fields needing to “rest,” but about the person—the business owner—dedicating that entire year to G-d. Just as we dedicate the seventh day of each week to G-d, so too do we dedicate each seventh year to G-d as well.


Let’s peel back another layer to understand why we observe every seventh day for G-d. Isn’t once a month enough? Why so often? G-d only created the world once, so why do we have to remind ourselves week after week that G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh?


The Torah gives us another reason why we rest on the seventh day: To remind us that we are free from bondage. Once we were slaves in Egypt, but today we are free. To use more modern terminology: The whole week we are slaves to our job, and on the seventh day we unplug and dedicate the day to G-d, to our family, to ourselves. In short, we reconnect to what really matters in our life. To become free again, we unshackle ourselves, we unplug.


Imagine if you could take a sabbatical from work and reconnect to your soul, to your essence, once every seven years. Not because it is better for business, but because it is better for you. Think about this for a moment. I know it might not be practical for everyone, nor is this applicable to us all, but the lesson definitely is.


We can all find the time, whether it be a few hours, a Shabbat or even on a planned vacation, to actually reconnect to G-d, to find that day that we dedicate to bring G-d into our lives.


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