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|Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule
Positive Mitzvot 82, 135;
Negative Mitzvot 220, 221, 222
Positive Mitzvah 82: Breaking the Neck of an Unredeemed First-born Donkey
Exodus 34:20 "And if you do not redeem it, you shall break its neck"
The owner of a first-born donkey, who does not redeem it, prevents the priest from receiving his due.
He cannot benefit from this animal and is commanded to kill it by breaking its neck.
However, sometimes, Avi thinks about his cousins who live on a kibbutz in the north and wonders what it is like to live there.
One summer, Avi's parents decided to send him to stay with his cousins for a month.
He was so excited he could talk of nothing else for weeks.
Finally, Avi arrived at the kibbutz. The countryside was so different from the city. The beautiful green meadows and yellow fields were nicer than any park back home. Avi loved the kibbutz. But most of all, he liked to accompany his uncle on his tractor.
Every day, his aunt would make fresh salads and steam vegetables that came straight from the fields. His uncle even let him pick the fruits and vegetables himself. Avi was amazed at the large amount of fresh produce that grew in the fields.
"Uncle Abe," he once said, as they were riding on the tractor, "it is as if the land is a natural factory, producing such a large harvest over and over again every year."
His uncle smiled. "You are right, Avi. Sometimes, we're so used to it, we take it for granted and expect the earth to supply us constantly, with everything that we need. But, you know, that's why HaShem commanded us to keep Shemitah."
"Shemitah?" Avi repeated, somewhat puzzled.
Uncle Abe explained: "For six years we work the land, and then, on the seventh year, we stop plowing and planting."
"That sound's like Shabbat!" exclaimed Avi.
"In a way it is!" Uncle Abe replied. "It is a Shabbat for the land.
We do not work the land at all. It reminds us, that it's not the earth that supplies us, but HaShem that makes things grow!"
"But then, how do you make a living, Uncle Abe?" asked Avi.
"I can't imagine my father taking a year off from work!"
Uncle Abe explained: "There are some types of work in the fields that are permitted. Most important though, this Positive Mitzvah teaches us to trust HaShem and believe that He will provide us with our needs. And He does!"
The Positive Mitzvah of Shemitah applies only in Eretz Yisrael.
Positive Mitzvah 135: Resting the Land from Plowing and Reaping during Shemitah
Exodus 34:21 "In plowing and in harvest you shall rest"
The Torah commands us to stop working the land during the Shemitah year.
When the spies that Moses sent returned from their rendezvous of the Land of Canaan, they included in their report these words: "We felt like ants before them, and so we were in their eyes." Because they felt like ants in their own eyes, therefore, others saw them as ants as well.
From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - firstname.lastname@example.org