G‑d spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai and said . . . Six years you may plant your fields . . . and the seventh year shall be Shabbat. You shall not plant . . .”

Why was this divine commandment of Shemittah (the Sabbatical year, when fields are left fallow) particularly related to Mt. Sinai? After all, the entire Torah was taught to Moses at Sinai.

Shemittah, perhaps to a greater degree than other commandments, tests the Jew’s faith in G‑d, because it explicitly calls upon him to demonstrate his confidence in G‑d’s bounty, his belief in G‑d’s power and providence. “If you ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year—we have not sown and harvested?’ I will give you My blessing . . .”1 This is a difficult test, undramatic; there is no heroic martyrdom involved. There is no reason for its fulfillment but faith in G‑d, and without faith, its fulfillment is impossible. As Sinai is symbolic of Judaism, Shemittah is symbolic of devotion to Judaism.

We As Sinai is symbolic of Judaism, Shemittah is symbolic of devotion to Judaismhave our own Shemittah every week—the Shabbat day that is no less a test of our religious convictions. How many who profess to cherish Judaism and insist that dire necessity forces them into reluctant violation, have actually made an effort to keep just one Shabbat and failed? How many admittedly unconcerned with earning their next meal, thank G‑d, and even familiar with luxuries, nonetheless continue to desecrate Shabbat—with no excuse of hardship?

Few today fail to subscribe to the beauties and rewards of religious faith. Everybody “believes” in G‑d, faith is declared to be a “wonderful thing,” and it’s very important for domestic tranquility, preventing juvenile delinquency and peace of mind. But what is faith if not the power to act by that faith? And if our faith ends at our pocketbooks, then how valuable is it?