In Parshas Bechukosai (Vayikra 26:34), the verse states:

אָז תִּרְצֶה הָאָרֶץ אֶת שַׁבְּתֹתֶיהָ כֹּל יְמֵי הָשַּׁמָּה וְאַתֶּם בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיכֶם אָז תִּשְׁבַּת הָאָרֶץ וְהִרְצָת אֶת שַׁבְּתֹתֶיהָ

Then, the land will be appeased regarding its sabbaticals. During all the days that it remains desolate while you are in the land of your enemies, the Land will rest and thus appease its sabbaticals.

In what sense is the land appeased? Is the land angry that it has been denied its rest and worked too much? Does the land have emotions in some way?

(I am aware that Rashi understands the verse to mean that HaShem will be "appeased" regarding the land. However, I am looking for an explanation for the common translation that land itself is appeased.)

3 Answers 3


Although man has free will, God has a world plan and one way or another his plan will succeed. Similarly God has set into Creation that just as scientific laws must not be violated, so too the laws of the Torah are inviolable.

With regards to shmittah the land must rest either through the choice of those in the land of Israel or through some other means... But rest it will!

The entire Creation was created to be part of God's grand world plan. When man uses the earth to violate God's mitvos he lowers the holiness of not only himself but the earth as well.

Thus, the earth as a component of creation that is not fulfilling its purpose for being created is unsatisfied and only becomes satisfied when that injustice is redressed.

Sources mesilas yesharim 1, daas tevunos , horeb, also see a remarkable Shaar Hatziyun along these lines (Orach Chaim 622:6)


When speaking of the effect that people have on nature as a result of activities, we often use anthropomorfication as a method of expressing the viewpoint. For example, we have the reference to the land "vomiting out" its inhabitants when abominations are performed in it. Similarly, when shemittah is not adhered to, the spiritual nature of the land is sullied and it is as if it is being constantly abused. In order to express this idea, we say that the exile must last one year for every shemittah that was not fulfilled. Thus, for the 70 shemittos that were abandoned, the land will receive a "shemittah" year by having its inhabitants forced to abandon the land.

This shows the idea of middah kneged middah and that Hashem has caused the physical world to mirror the spiritual world.

People need to hear things in a way that they can conceive of or understand. It is like the way we visualize traits of Hashem in a physical way (as a strong arm and outstretched hand for example) when we know Hashem has no physical traits. Similarly we speak of nature as a being with human thoughts and emotions even though we know it has no independent existence.


To provide an answer specific to Shemita:

Kli Yakar's commentary to Vayikra 25:2, after explaining that the purpose of Shemita is to entrench firm emunah in the Jewish people, and the failure to observe it's laws results in a lack of Emunah

וגם הארץ עצמה תקפיד על זה מאד כי רצונה שיתגלגל זכות זה על ידה לחזק האמונה בה' על ידה, ועוד שעל ידי זה יאמינו כי כולם אינן רק אריסים בקרקע והקב"ה בעל השדה ובדבר הזה הארץ חפיצה שיהיה הקב"ה בעצמו בעלה ואדונה

(Translation mine) And the land itself will take issue with this greatly, since it's desire is that this merit should come about through it, to strengthen Emunah in Hashem through it. And furthermore, through this they would come to believe that they are all mere sharecroppers in the land, and Hashem is the owner of the field, and this is the desire of the land that Hashem Himself should be its owner and master.

The land is not upset at lack of time off, but at being deprived of the opportunity to bring about Emunah in Hashem, and in not being seen as under the direct jurisdiction of Hashem.

We find many examples of inanimate objects desiring to fulfill a spiritual purpose or mission, such as the rocks that wanted to be under Yaakov's head when he lied down. The Sefer Leshem writes that every creation that is a part of bringing about Kavod Shamayim and revelation of Hashem's rule will be a part of Olam Habah, because it has reached a measure of fulfillment by playing a part in this purpose.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .