Parshas Behar begins with the mitzvah of shemitah. HaShem commands us not to work in our fields in Eretz Yisrael for the entire seventh year. We let the land rest and devote our time to studying Torah. HaShem assures us that although we do not work the land during the seventh year, we will still have enough to eat: “The land will give forth its produce and you will eat your fill.”

In the following passuk, the Torah says: “And should you ask: ‘What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not plant or harvest.’ And I will command My blessing....”

HaShem promises us that the harvest of the sixth year will be so plentiful that there will be enough for three years: the sixth year; the seventh year, which is shemitah when we do not work the land; and even the eighth year, while we are waiting for the new produce to grow.

It seems a bit surprising that the Torah should tell us that people may ask what they will eat. Hadn’t the Torah already told us that “The land will give forth its produce and you will eat your fill”? Why would anyone have a question after being told this? And wouldn’t the Torah consider asking such a question to be a lack of emunah?

If we read the wording in the passuk carefully, we see that the Torah does not consider asking this question wrong. The passuk says: “And should you say...” It does not say: “And if you say...” It almost sounds as if it is right to ask.

A person who is asking this question is not lacking in emunah. He knows that HaShem promised that we will have food to eat and he trusts Him. He is only wondering how HaShem’s blessing will come about. After all, according to the laws of nature, the sixth year should not be a very plentiful year. Land which is farmed year after year loses the richness of its soil. Indeed, one of the explanations which is given for the mitzvah of shemitah is that it gives the land time to rest and rebuild itself. The person’s real question is this: does that mean that HaShem will work miracles for us?

The Torah answers: Yes. It promises that if we have emunah and mesirus nefesh and keep the laws of shemitah, ignoring the laws of nature, HaShem, too, will provide for us in a way that is above the laws of nature. The sixth year, when the soil is at its weakest, will be a most plentiful one.

Our Rabbis teach us that since the Creation, each thousand years are like one year of the shemitah cycle. We are now in the sixth thousand-year period since Creation. We might ask the same question which is in this week’s parshah. Certainly, we believe that the geulah will come any moment. But we may wonder: how is it that our generation, which is weak when compared to the previous generations, will merit the geulah?

The answer is the same as in the parshah. When HaShem sees our emunah and mesirus nefesh, our determination and our willingness to do things that by nature people may find hard to do, then He, too, will overlook the natural course of events and bring the geulah immediately.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVII, p. 189)