Matter & Spirit – The Blog

6 בMay 2015

Plan The Plants – Behar

Shabbat Ha’aretz

“For six years you shall plant your vineyard, and gather…its produce, and on the seventh year, it will be a year of rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem… The Sabbath of the land will be sustenance for you (25:3,6).



This year’s Parshat Behar inevitably draws a smile to every face. “Hello, Shmittah!” we wave animatedly at the pages of the Chumash. “Here we are! Am Yisrael! We’ve been observing you since the beginning of the year! We remember you every day, in the kitchen, in the stores, in our neglected garden. We even have a special garbage can in your honor…”

Shmittah is a very special year. Like Shabbat, is reminds us to take a break from the constant race of life, to let things rest and allow them to develop from their innate capacities, without external intervention. It reminds us that we have a King who cares and tends to every aspect of Creation. Simultaneously, Shmittah also encompasses technical challenges that lend to it difficult, sometimes frustrating associations.



Shmittah – It’s No Surprise!

Before delving into the depths of Shmittah, we must pay close attention to the verses that precede the mitzvah: “For six years you shall plant your vineyard…And you shall gather…”  The keyword here is planning. Shmittah doesn’t just land on us unexpectedly. We know when she’s coming—precisely at the close of the sixth year, timely as a Swiss watch. Perhaps if we prepare aptly for her arrival throughout six years, if we create a special fund for the heroic farmers, if we seek solutions in advance, we can rejoice sincerely with her coming and the great gifts and blessings  in her possession, rather than grimace and sigh, “Oh no, not Shmittah again!”

Indeed, the Torah herself proclaims, “And if you shall ask, ‘What shall we eat on the seventh year?’ And I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year” (25:20-21).


Adding Wood to the Fire

This evening, we celebrate Lag Ba’Omer – the Hilulah of the Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. We all know that effort breeds success. All those piles of wood that the children have been collecting and dragging across the city since the morning after Pesach will be lit, and those boasting more wood, harder work and greater effort will blaze longer than others. Last-minute bonfires will expire quickly, and their owners will spend a good part of the evening searching for spare wood to feed the flames. Those who didn’t toil during the days and weeks preceding Lag Ba’Omer won’t enjoy the same warmth, and their cooked potatoes may be raw inside.

matter-spirit-Behar-15 Waiting to be lit…   Photo: Meitav Imas


Plan Well, and It’ll Go Well…

The same approach in planning applies to home design, as well. Good planning, which includes detailed blueprints, quantity lists to the contractor, and precise orders of everything the client needs to purchase throughout the building / renovations process, fosters a positive, comfortable experience. The more defined and accurate the plans, measurements and quantities, the greater are the chances that all materials will be ordered and supplied in a timely fashion.

There’s another kind of planning, as well:  Obviously, we don’t build a house for only a year or two to fulfill our immediate needs. Rather, we hope to live and thrive in the house for many long, good, and happy years ahead… It may feel funny to plan for the golden years when you’re just a young couple or family with small children, but G-d willing, even the small children will one day grow up, get married and return to visit with their own children.  So too, as the years pass and we reach the age and stage of wisdom, climbing dozens of steps will be difficult, and it may be awkward to sink into a deep bathtub rather than suffice with an easy shower. Our parents and grandparents may also grace our home with a visit, and we want to be considerate both of their needs and of ours in the long-term future, as well!



My Gorgeous Garden

During the present year of Shmittah, tending an outdoor garden is prohibited, and there are even restrictions regarding indoor plants. However if we can plan throughout six years of field labor for the seventh year of Shmittah, then we can certainly plan during the year of Shmittah for the upcoming six years! So let’s start planning now what to plant in our outdoor garden or garden terrace, and imagine how we can create a miniature spice garden in our home….After 3 Tishrei, 5776, if you please!

matter-spirit-Behar-6 haymes paint


matter-spirit-Behar-7left – intimate weddings   right  –  shutterstock


matter-spirit-Behar-4left –  Etsy      right - Etsy   




matter-spirit-Behar-10left –  providence design    right – designsponge   photo by Forrest Kline


matter-spirit-Behar-8left – kelly moore    right – Etsy


In the meanwhile, here’s a friendly tip that you can enjoy until then… Visit IKEA to purchase authentic-looking potted plants that will enhance your indoors with the fresh look and effect of outdoors until this year reaches its close. These aesthetic items are also ideal for the hopeless ‘plant-killers’ – people who vow never to bring a plant into the house, because it’ll inevitably die…

matter-spirit-Behar-9left – designsponge photo by Forrest Kline      right –  IKEA


And may Hashem command His blessing upon us, our plans, our plants and our homes!


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