What could be simpler than letting go and letting God? After all, how hard could it be to let go of our problems and have God take over for us? At first blush, not hard at all. But the truth is, letting go is not that simple. It means letting go of an outcome we very much desire and allowing God to manifest God’s will. While that may sound straightforward, most of us tend to push back against God’s will in a desire to cling to our preferred outcome. If I for example don’t wear a mask, I can continue to live life as I want it to be and ignore COVID-19. But as they say what we resist, persists.
In the first of this week’s double Torah portion Behar/Bechukotai, God instructs Moses in the laws of Shmita – the year of release or Sabbatical year – laws that allow the land to rest every seven years. Just as we are commanded to work six days a week and rest on the seventh, Shmita stipulates working the land for six years and then allowing it to rest on the seventh. In that seventh year debts are forgiven and agricultural land lies fallow. The spiritual basis for shmita is twofold: the belief that no human being should be condemned to permanent servitude; and that since earth and all its inhabitants belong to God, human beings cannot possess the land or the people forever.
While shmita is certainly a Let Go Let God moment – foregoing planting even though you fear the possibility of not having enough food, the year 2020 may be one as well. We have all had to let go literally and figuratively, of so much we cling to when it comes to our daily lives, even though we fear the future and our way of life.
As a shmita year 2020 is focused not just on the land, but on planet earth, which is now being given a chance to rest from all the stress we humans heap on it. With the entire world staying in their homes these past few months, this new shmita seems to be working. Pollution, and deaths related to pollution are at all-time lows. For the sake of our lives and the life of the planet, let’s keep letting go and letting God.