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|Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule
Negative Mitzvah 223;
Positive Mitzvot 134, 141;
Negative Mitzvot 230, 231
Negative Mitzvah 223: It is forbidden to pick fruit in the usual manner during Shemitah
Leviticus 25:5 "Nor gather the grapes of the unpruned vine"
Produce that grows during the Shemitah year, but had been planted before, is considered "Hefker".
This means that anyone is allowed to come and pick it.
We may pick fruit during the Shemitah, but we must remember that the fruit is available to everyone, not just to the field's owner.
We are also commanded to pick the fruit in a different way than we usually would. This is a reminder that the fruit does not only belong to the owner.
For example, dates are usually picked and set out to dry in special utensils.
We may not pick and dry them in the usual manner. We can do it in a different way - using another drying area.
Positive Mitzvah 134: Making our Fields Available to Everyone during Shemitah
Exodus 23:11 "But the seventh year. You shall let it rest and abandon it"
Every seventh year, the entire Jewish people would stop working in the fields and orchards.
During this year, the owners of fields are commanded to allow the produce to be collected and used by anyone who desires to do so.
This Positive Mitzvah reminds a Jew that everything belongs to HaShem.
It trains him to share and distribute his possessions with others in a generous way.
The needy person, taking advantage of the available produce, will not be ashamed. He does not have to stretch out his hand before the owner, nor beg for his food. No one will comment on the amount that he collects.
Positive Mitzvah 141: Forgoing Loans after Shemitah
Deuteronomy 15:3 "But if you have any claim against your brother, you must relinquish it. "
Many banks advertise money saving investment plans.
They attract customers with their flashy slogans and impressive deals, promising the public the most for their money.
Have you ever seen an advertisement announcing a bank that will forgo payment on the loans that it gives out?!
At the end of the Shemitah year, the Torah commands us to drop any claims we may have on loans we made to others. No matter what the size of the loan, the debtor is freed from paying it back.
Nevertheless keeping this Positive Mitzvah will prove to be highly profitable for us as we put our trust in HaShem to fulfill our needs.
Negative Mitzvah 230: It is forbidden to demand payment of debts during Shemitah or afterwards.
Deuteronomy 15:2 "Every creditor that lends anything to his neighbor shall release it"
When we loan money to someone we expect to be paid back.
However, the Torah tells us that when Shemitah comes along we must forgive the loan that was made. Rather, we should trust that HaShem will "repay" us.
When the Shemitah year arrives, we are commanded not to demand our loans back. They are considered forgiven and must no longer be repaid.
Negative Mitzvah 231: It is forbidden to refuse to lend money before Shemitah
Deuteronomy 15:9 "Beware that there not be an unworthy thought in your heart, saying: The seventh year, the year of release is at hand..... and you will give him nothing"
When the Shemitah year arrives, loans do not have to be paid back, (see above Negative Mitzvah 230). Therefore, a person may decide not to lend any money before the Shemitah year. After all, if the borrower does not pay up before Shemitah, the lender will never get his money back!
The Torah cautions us not to consider such thoughts. We should trust in HaShem, who will certainly reward us for our generosity and open hand. We should lend the money even if it seems likely that we may not get it back.
One who really cares is not placated by the fact that he has a good excuse. If the goal was not achieved, it was not achieved -- regardless of the excuse.
From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - firstname.lastname@example.org