By the Grace of G‑d
Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5733
Brooklyn, N.Y.
[May 3, 1973]

The Lubavitch Foundation
Manchester, England

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed of your forthcoming Building Dinner. May G‑d grant that it should be with much Hatzlocho in every respect.

The current Shemittah Year is an auspicious one, for the Sabbatical Year corresponds to the Shabbos day which is the source of blessing for all the days of the week. It also has a meaningful message for us, even though the laws pertaining to the cessation of all agricultural activity during the year of Shemittah do not apply outside of the Holy Land. Nonetheless, as in the case of certain other Mitzvoth which do not apply “at this time” (in the absence of the Beth Hamikdosh), their inner spiritual content and message are eternal, for the Torah in all its details is eternal. Consequently, these Mitzvoth, too, can and ought to be made part of our actual experience, in our daily life, here and now.

The basic point of Shemittah is that when a Jew possesses a field, and has title to it, and the Torah itself recognizes his rightful ownership and obliges him to dedicate part of its produce to Terumah and Maaser (“tithes”) etc., the Jew must at the same time recognize that the real owner and master is G‑d, Who declares, “The earth is Mine.” And the recognition of this truth is not to be merely a matter of symbolic formality. It had to be implemented in a tangible way, by actually renouncing ownership to the field, ceasing all work on it, and abandoning its produce to all and sundry, even to the beasts of the field. All this for the duration of the entire year. Moreover, as in the case of all Mitzvoth which have to be fulfilled with joy, a Jew fulfills the Mitzvoth of Shemittah likewise most joyfully, realising how greatly a Mitzvah is to be cherished, and that there is no greater happiness than doing G‑d's Will. On His part, G‑d explicitly promised an immediate and super-natural reward for the observance of Shemittah, assuring a three-fold yield on the sixth year, to produce for three full years.

Thus, Shemittah, like Shabbos, reminds us that although the Torah expects a Jew to engage in matters of Parnoso in the natural way (“Six days shalt thou toil and do all your work”), yet when it comes to Yiddishkeit, the observance of Torah and Mitzvoth, the Jew is placed over and above nature, and he comes directly under Divine Providence, even miraculous Divine inter-vention. If in the realm of the material a Jew is not always comp-lete master, he is so in the realm of the spiritual. It is up to him to exercise this mastery, and to do this not on special days in the year, such as the High Holy Days, Shabbos and Yom Tov, or on special occasions, but each and every day of the year, the week-days as well as Shabbos and Yom Tov, etc., just as Shemittah encompasses the entire year, and each and every day of it.

In the light of the above, and in the spirit of the current Shmittah year, I trust that the participants in the Dinner, and all who cherish Torah-true Yidishkeit, will respond generously to the occasion and give the Lubavitch Foundation the financial and moral support needed to carry on its vital program of strengthening and spreading Yiddishkeit in your worthy community, in an ever growing measure. And, as above, G‑d’s reward will surely be “in kind,” bestowing a supernatural abundance of blessings to each and all, in all needs, materially and spiritually.

With prayerful wishes for Hatzlocho, and with esteem and blessing,

M. Schneerson