Sunday, September 29, 2013

Three Years of Parnassah…Up Front!

Firstly, I do want to apologize for not following up on my Shidduch Crisis post that I launched last spring. I do hope to get to it eventually but for now, I need to digress. I hope to follow the crude advice of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to "never let a crisis go to waste".

The Yomim Noraim of 5774 have come and gone. What did we daven for?

Well, if you are like me, a heartfelt entreaty for parnassah was probably at the top of the list. After all, the world economy in general and Yechezkel Hirshman's economy in particular are what we call here al hapanim (the pits). I mean really bad shape. My own trade deficit (income vs. outgo) rivals that of Uncle Sam. My income cannot cover my basic day to day expenses and I have been forced to supplement my meager earnings with reserve money to the point of near total depletion. Cutbacks and mounting short term debt have taken their toll. I have IOU notes in my cookie jar. Not to mention at least 3 offspring on the Shadchan's sights (getting back to the Shidduch crisis…)

Of course, the Yad Hashem is always evident. About six months back I calculated that I have enough reserve to keep me afloat until June. When June came around, a long overdue and hard fought payoff came through and I revised my calculation that I now have enough to hold me until Rosh Hashannah. To me this was quite significant because every Rosh Hashannah is another chance to reset the tables. I saw that HKBH's plan for me for 5773 was fulfilled. But what's in store for 5774?

So when the Days of Mercy came around three weeks ago, like so many others, I poured out my heart for financial salvation.

But it struck me recently that perhaps, we who live here in Eretz Yisrael didn't have to. For us, there is no need to worry about parnassah this year. For 5774, parnassah is guaranteed. GUARANTEED!

And not just one year of parnassah. Three years. Three whole years of parnassah to be dealt out in 5774. GUARANTEED!

Where is it guaranteed?

Right here in my chumash. In Vayikra 25:20,21. Here it clearly states:
וכי תאמרו מה נאכל בשנה השביעית הן לא נזרע ולא נאסף את תבואתנו: וציויתי את ברכתי לכם בשנה הששית ועשת את התבואה לשלש השנים:

Free translation:
And should you ask "What shall we eat on the seventh year? Alas, we cannot sow and we cannot gather our produce?" And I will order My blessing on the sixth year and it will yield its produce for the amount of three years.

That's right, for those who intend to uphold the laws of shemitta, we have a guarantee that on the sixth year the GDP will do a threefold performance and we'll pull in enough to keep us afloat for three whole years. What a deal!!

Of course this probably won't apply to everybody. There are those Jews who rely on the Hetter Mechira and by so doing, treat the seventh year like every other year.

In a previous post (see my post about Ki LiHaAretz - Eminent Domain), I wrote at length that the validity of the Hetter Mechira needs to be reviewed because some of the key factors that were used to justify it in the first place are no longer applicable. But regardless of whether it is still Halachically valid it may not be a good idea to rely on it.


Because it probably voids the guarantee.

You see, this guarantee is earmarked for people who ask: "What shall we eat on the seventh year? Alas, we cannot sow and we cannot gather our produce?"

G-d is making this guarantee for those who intend to follow the basic laws and not to sow and not to gather the produce. For those who will use Halachic loopholes to circumvent the prohibitions, I am sure G-d can find some loopholes in His guarantee.

So now, 5774, the sixth year of the cycle, is the time for all of us Jews living in E"Y to decide how we intend to keep the upcoming Shmitta year. The genuine way that comes with a three year guarantee or the convoluted way that doesn't.

Remember: הטורח בערב שבת הוא יאכל בשבת.

Now, I personally identify with the follow-the-rules-as-written (WYSIWYG) clan so I do hope that the guarantee applies to me. Of course, one may argue that this guarantee is only applicable to those who actually work the land, not to those who get their sustenance from Technical Writing or the benefits of a US based family business.

This may indeed be so. But since 5774 is indeed the sixth year of the cycle, people like me can always fall back on preservation plan B…

…5774 is a Maaser Ohni year!